Argued: April 12, 2017
A. McNamara, Esq. (orally), Drake Law, LLC, Berwick, for
appellant Benjamin H. Hodgdon II.
Toffolon, Dep. Dist. Atty. (orally), Ellsworth, for appellee
State of Maine.
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Benjamin H. Hodgdon II appeals from a judgment of conviction
entered by the trial court (Hancock County, R.
Murray, /.) on a jury verdict finding him guilty of one
count each of gross sexual assault (Class A), 17-AM.R.S.A.
§253(1)(B), (4) (Supp. 2000); unlawful sexual contact
(Class C), 17-A M.R.S.A. § 255(1)(C), (2) (Supp.
2000); and sexual abuse of a minor (Class C),
17-A M.R.S.A. § 254(1)(A), (3)(A) (Supp.
2000). He contends on appeal, inter alia, that
the trial court's jury instructions as to the counts for
gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact were in
error because the instructions did not require the jury to
find beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim was not yet
fourteen years old when those crimes occurred. We disagree
and affirm the judgment.
The jury rationally could have found the following facts
beyond a reasonable doubt. See State v. Troy, 2014
ME 9, ¶ 3, 86 A.3d 591.
Hodgdon worked as a sixth, seventh, and eighth grade teacher
from 1991 until 2003. The victim was born on March 16, 1986,
and attended the same school where Hodgdon taught; Hodgdon
was her teacher, tutor, and cross-country coach. During the
summers of 1998, 1999, and 2000, she worked for Hodgdon's
lawn care business mowing lawns.
When she was in seventh or eighth grade, Hodgdon began a
sexual relationship with the victim. Hodgdon initiated the
relationship by kissing the victim and touching her genitals
both over and underneath her clothing. On a later occasion,
Hodgdon and the victim had sexual intercourse after she had
spent the evening babysitting his children. Over the course
of their relationship they had sexual intercourse at
Hodgdon's home, in his modular classroom, and in his
truck both at the school parking lot and at lawn care job
sites. Hodgdon also on one occasion performed oral sex on her
at his relative's house in Northeast Harbor. The victim
estimated that, in total, they had sex between thirty and
forty times before she completed junior high.
Hodgdon and the victim remained in contact after she finished
junior high school in 2000. She worked for him tending lawns
during the summers of 2004 and 2006, and in the summer of
2004, when the victim was eighteen, Hodgdon performed oral
sex on her in his home. They remained in contact both in
person and by phone until July 2013.
The victim reported the crimes to the Hancock County
Sheriff's Office in 2013. Hodgdon was charged by
indictment on April 10, 2014, with four counts of gross
sexual assault (Class A), 17-A M.R.S.A. § 253(1)(B),
(4); two counts of unlawful sexual contact (Class C), 17-A
M.R.S.A. § 255(1)(C), (2); and two counts of sexual
abuse of a minor (Class C), 17-A M.R.S.A. § 2 54(1) (A),
(3)(A). He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Hodgdon filed a motion to dismiss on August 11, 2014,
contending that the State permitted the spoliation of the
victim's cellphone-from which an investigating detective
had downloaded a recording purportedly made by the victim of
a conversation between Hodgdon and herself-arguing that
digital data on the lost or destroyed phone constituted
"crucial, exculpatory, irreplaceable evidence." The
trial court (Mallonee, J.) held a hearing on the
motion on December 17, 2014, and denied it on March 26, 2015.
A jury trial was held on March 14, 15, and 16, 2016,
the jury returned a guilty verdict as to Count 5, gross
sexual assault (Class A), 17-AM.R.S.A. §253(1)(B), (4);
Count 6, unlawful sexual contact (Class C), 17-AM.R.S.A.
§ 255(1)(C), (2); and Count 7, sexual abuse of a minor
(Class C), 17-AM.R.S.A. §254(1)(A), (3)(A). The jury
acquitted Hodgdon of all other ...