AUGUSTA — A mistrial was declared Friday in the trial of a Rumford man accused of sexually assaulting a girl under the age of 12 in Augusta, after a juror inadvertently learned information about the case from a family member.

Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy declared a mistrial in the case of Alexander L. LaPointe, 36, on two counts of gross sexual assault after learning that a juror had a conversation with one of his family members who had mentioned the case, including information that was not part of the testimony jurors heard in court.

That prompted Murphy to dismiss that juror from the jury, leaving only 11 jurors, not the 12 required to render a verdict.

Details of what information the juror learned, and how, were not discussed in court. Murphy said the juror learned the information, “through no fault of his own,” and the information was about the case and not part of testimony in court.

Jurors are only allowed to consider evidence and testimony submitted in court as they decide verdicts.

Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, said the mistrial was disappointing, given the time and effort that had gone into the trial. The case against LaPointe will be tried again based on the same two charges, which allege he sexually assaulted a girl under the age of 12 in Augusta twice between 2010 and 2014.

“We will be trying it again, and we’ve already spoken to the victim, who is supportive of continuing to go forward, and we’re going to do so,” Maloney said Friday.

She added that the victim, who is now 17 and testified in the trial earlier in the week, “is determined to go forward and make sure that (LaPointe) doesn’t repeat his conduct with anyone else. She’s very strong, very courageous. She’s more courageous than I’ve ever had to be. It’s extremely difficult for a victim to talk about the worst thing that’s ever happened in her life to a group of strangers. To have to do it twice, I can’t imagine how horrible that is for someone to go through.”

LaPointe’s attorney, Matthew Morgan of McKee Law, also expressed disappointment in the mistrial. When informed the district attorney’s office planned to prosecute the case again, Morgan said his firm would once again mount another defense against the charges.

“Alex is certainly disappointed his case ended in a mistrial, but appreciates the jury’s careful attention to the evidence and truthful disclosure about information from outside the trial making its way into the jury room,” Morgan said of LaPointe. “He is prepared to defend himself at any future trial.”

Maloney, too, praised jurors, who sent a note to Murphy noting one of them had gotten information about the case from outside the courtroom.

“It was in no way nefarious,” she said of the contact between the juror and his family member which resulted in case information being shared. “There was no intent to get outside information, but it did happen. And the jury did the right thing and brought it to the attention of the court. I greatly appreciate that; it is extremely important everyone be given a fair trial.”

The problem came up after an alternate juror had already been dismissed from the case, following closing arguments by both sides Wednesday, as is standard procedure for alternate jurors.

LaPointe was arrested in 2019 and charged with two counts of gross sexual assault on a child younger than 12 years old. The girl, whom the Kennebec Journal is not naming because she is the victim of an alleged sexual assault, testified that LaPointe lured her into his trailer home in Augusta to play chess, a game she enjoyed, but once she was inside he took off his robe and wasn’t wearing any clothes. She said she left that room and went to the bathroom but then he followed her into the bathroom and took off her clothes and sexually assaulted her. The next day he sexually assaulted her again, while threatening to kill her if she told anyone about it, according to state prosecutor Frayla Tarpinian, deputy district attorney.

Morgan argued in his closing arguments the alleged incidents didn’t happen, and the girl’s memories of the incidents are based on her nightmares, not actual recollection. He suggested her nightmares were caused by the increasingly difficult relationship with her mother when she reported the incidents, in 2018.

The indictment of LaPointe alleged the crimes in Augusta occurred between September 2010 and September 2014.

The victim remained silent for years, Tarpinian said of the girl, until in 2018 when she reached out to report the alleged rapes to her mother after she had nightmares about them, that kept her from being able to sleep.

LaPointe is also facing another charge of gross sexual assault, involving the same victim, in Oxford County, where the case is awaiting trial.

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