AUGUSTA — A Pittston man will spend the next 10 years behind bars for sexually assaulting a 3-year-old boy in the child’s Vassalboro home.

Troy D. Tibbetts, 35, was sentenced Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court to 20 years in prison with all but 10 years suspended and six years’ probation.

Tibbetts had pleaded guilty in June to gross sexual assault occurring between Nov. 4, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009, in Vassalboro.

The sentence was enhanced because of a law passed in 2006 by the Legislature that increased penalties for individuals convicted of sexually assaulting children younger than 12.

That law says the basic sentence in the case is 20 years in prison. Judges can then adjust the final sentence depending on the circumstances of the crime and the offender’s history.

“Justice Murphy, in her comments, indicated the Legislature had spoken very clearly that these cases are to be taken seriously,” District Attorney Evert Fowle said after the hearing.

“We were very pleased with this sentence and that the court adopted our recommendation,” Fowle said.

“The law change has really had a dramatic impact on the severity of these sentences. We’ve seen at least a doubling in severity of sentences imposed for crimes like these.”

The boy’s mother, now 27, said he has nightmares, wets the bed, has problems at school and can’t be unsupervised around other children.

“He has a heightened sense of sexuality,” she said. “He doesn’t understand why he does these things. It’s because he was molested.”

The woman said the boy kept the abuse a secret for a year and a half.

It is the policy of MaineToday Media newspapers not to identify victims of sex abuse.

Tibbetts spoke during the hearing, as well.

“He said he was sorry and remorseful and this had been weighing on him every day,” said Tibbetts’ attorney, Harold J. Hainke. “I don’t know if it’s possible for a person to show more remorse. He accepted responsibility in the initial police interview and recognized it was a serious offense.”

Hainke had asked the judge to limit the initial jail time to four years so Tibbetts would be eligible for a sex offender treatment program at the Maine Correctional Center. It is not available to those with longer prison terms, who are generally sent to a different facility.

“There was an opportunity for a good treatment program, but the court felt that deterrence was more important,” Hainke said.

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

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