PARIS — An Oxford County man who had his felony convictions for unlawful sexual touching vacated in December pleaded no-contest to assault Wednesday, rather than face the prospect of another trial.

Active-Retired Justice Robert Clifford sentenced David Hanscom, 65, of Mason Township to 364 days in jail — all suspended — and one year of probation.

Hanscom pleaded no contest to the assault charge in exchange for the state dropping the two felony charges. The plea was given in Oxford County Superior Court.

A no-contest plea means the person neither disputes nor admits committing the crime. 

In December 2015, a jury convicted Hanscom of the two felonies involving two 8-year-old girls in 2012. He was sentenced to three years in prison with all but 15 months suspended.

In August 2016, Hanscom appealed the conviction, arguing that the verdict should be reversed because the court denied his request to make special instructions to the jury on the evidence, and a prosecutor was overzealous in her closing argument.

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Walter McKee, Hanscom’s attorney, wrote in the appeal brief that during the trial, an Oxford County judge agreed to explain to the jury that there were two separate instances in which one of the girls testified to being sexually abused: once in a den and another in a bedroom. In order to find Hanscom guilty, the jury would have to agree beyond a reasonable doubt that both instances occurred in order to return a guilty verdict.

McKee wrote in his appeal brief that the instruction was not given, making it ambiguous as to which set of facts jurors agreed to. The error wasn’t harmless, he said, “because defendants (have) a constitutional right to a unanimous verdict, and there can be no confidence that the jury unanimously found that one specific incident occurred.”

In December 2016, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of Hanscom, writing that information given to the jury was “erroneous and the error was prejudicial to Hanscom.”

The court vacated the convictions and ordered a new trial.

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David Hanscom


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