Maine Child Sexual Abuse & Gross Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer

If you or someone you know needs assistance due to being charged with abuse of a child, contact criminal defense lawyer, Richard S. Berne, today. Child sexual abuse is generally classified as a felony under Maine law, punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine. Call Richard S. Berne now for help.

Applicable Case Results

The Law Office of Richard S. Berne represented an individual who was charged with possession of child pornography by state prosecutors. After determining that the search that led to the charge was unlawful, Mr. Berne filed a motion to suppress which ultimately persuaded the district attorney to dismiss all charges against his client.  While this was not technically a child abuse case, the result is indicative of the results the Law Office of Richard S. Berne has achieved due his decades of experience and dedication to achieving the best possible outcome for his clients regardless of the charge.

Mr. Berne is credentialed to represent his clients in Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. His law office received 2018’s Best of Portland Award.

 Injuries Related to Child Sexual Abuse Cases

Child sexual abuse cases are unique for several reasons. First and foremost is the fact that underage victims pose challenging issues particularly in confronting their allegations in court.  There is also a natural inclination for prosecutors to validate such complaints since such victims are sympathetic and unable to advocate for themselves.  Thus these cases must be handled delicately without demonizing the victims. Among the symptoms a victim of  Child sexual abuse may display include:

  • Unexplained genital injury
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Eating Disorders
  • PTSD
  • Academic problems
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Inappropriate sexualized behavior
  • Aggressive acting out
  • Emotional distress
  • Isolation
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse

What are Common Defenses for Child Sexual Abuse?

Unfortunately, because of the nature of child abuse allegations, prosecutors generally will credit them absent definitive proof to the contrary.  However, there is no valid reason why such claims should be deemed more credible than other criminal complaints. In fact, false accusations of such conduct are more prevalent than one might expect. Among the reasons are:

  • Young alleged victims are more susceptible to being influenced by an interviewer’s questions resulting in answers they believe the interviewer is seeking rather than truthful responses.
  • The diction (pronunciation, tone, enunciation) of an interviewer may also affect their responses; giv
  • Peer pressure can affect the way a child answers the interview questions. If a child learns that another victim states that sexual abuse took place in a related case, he or she may instinctively answer similarly. This may have occurred in the 1982 Kern County child abuse cases.
  • Parents have been known to make false accusations against their spouses during child custody battles.

What are the Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse?

The age of consent in Maine is 16-years-old.   However, Maine has what is called a “close-in-age” exemption to the law which provides that those who are 14 and 15 may consent to partners who are less than five years older. This provision is also known as the “Romeo and Juliet” law.

Among the statutes that criminalize child sex abuse are:

Gross Sexual Assault may be charged as a Class A, B, or C crime. The punishment may be up to 40 years of incarceration. 17-A M.R.S. § 253

The criminal charge known as Sexual Abuse of Minors may be charged as a Class B, Class C, or Class D crime depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. Among the factors that affect the seriousness of a charge are whether penetration was involved, whether the actor was responsible for the welfare of the victim, whether the actor was 10 years older than the victim; whether the crime was incestuous; whether the victim was under 18, whether the actor was a school employee or whether the victim was 14 or 15 and the offender was five years older. 17-A-sec254

Sexual misconduct is a Class D misdemeanor  with a punishment of up to one year of incarceration. Maine state law § 258

Unlawful Sexual Contact is a Class B crime; a Class C crime; a Class D crime, or a Class E crime. Maine state law § 255-A

The Law Office of Richard S. Berne

Richard S. Berne, whose law office is in Portland, Maine, has over 40 years of experience in the areas of criminal defense and civil litigation. Richard S. Berne is eminently qualified to effectively represent plaintiffs and defendants in a wide range of white collar, criminal defense and civil litigation in State and Federal Courts in Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. If you need the assistance of an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in the area of defending sexual assault, Mr. Berne offers a free consultation to discuss your case. Call today for more information.