The young man who was charged with sexually assaulting a 5-year-old boy during a beach outing from the Long Creek Youth Development Center last year has pleaded guilty and will be held in juvenile detention so he can be treated until he’s 21.

Frank Stewart was a few weeks shy of his 18th birthday when the incident occurred at Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth in July 2009. He was charged as an adult and pleaded guilty this week to unlawful sexual contact. He also pleaded guilty to assaulting a corrections officer in an unrelated incident in February.

Christine Thibeault, a Cumberland County assistant district attorney, said the case was handled as an unusual hybrid: Stewart was charged and sentenced as an adult for the crime against the 5-year-old, but will serve his sentence in the juvenile facility in South Portland.

“We crafted this sentence very carefully,” Thibeault said.

At Long Creek, Stewart will get a type of treatment for sex offenders that the facility has just begun to offer.

He will have 14 years of probation after he is released — 12 years for the unlawful sexual contact and two years for the assault on the corrections officer.

Stewart will be barred from having contact with children younger than 14 and be required to register as a sex offender for life. Had he been treated strictly as a juvenile, the registration requirement would not have applied.

Prosecutors and Stewart’s attorney, Amy Fairfield, said corrections officials determined that the treatment available for adults at the Windham Correctional Center would not have been appropriate for Stewart.

Fairfield said Stewart is eager to begin the treatment at Long Creek, aimed specifically at teenage boys who molest younger children, and he welcomes the supervision of a long probation.

“The need for treatment for this kid could not be underscored (more),” she said, adding that Stewart was sexually abused as a child and had developmental issues.

Thibeault said the plea agreement is an appropriate mix of detention, treatment and follow-up. “This is the best treatment we can offer in the state, but a long period of supervision as well,” she said.

Stewart will be held at Long Creek until just before he turns 21, two years from now. He had already been committed to juvenile detention until that time, for a 2007 conviction for attempted unlawful sexual contact.

Stewart was one of nine Long Creek residents who were taken to Crescent Beach last July. He followed the 5-year-old into the bathhouse at the beach, exposed himself and then had the boy touch him.

The incident prompted corrections officials to suspend all off-grounds trips from Long Creek and adopt new rules for outings. The rules increase the number of supervisors per resident, require that residents be in sight or verbal contact with supervisors at all times, and require supervisors to check private areas such as rest rooms and changing rooms before and after residents use them.

Off-grounds trips are considered a reward for good behavior at Long Creek. 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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