PORTLAND – A Portland man with a history of repeatedly exposing himself and masturbating in public was deemed incompetent to be sentenced Tuesday, and a judge ordered him committed for one year at the state-run Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta.

A lawyer for Steven Ricci, 48, of 915 Brighton Ave., said Justice Roland Cole’s order in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court to commit Ricci is good news for his client and for the public.

Attorney Peter Richard Jr. said he had sought an alternate approach to sentencing for Ricci after he pleaded guilty to the most recent charge against him, indecent conduct. The new approach began with a 60-day evaluation at Riverview in December.

“Steve (Ricci) is and has been for some while in dire need of some help on a number of different levels, and this commitment will afford him an opportunity to receive that help and treatment,” Richard said. “By ignoring the underlying issues, neither Steve nor the public are protected.”

The prosecutor in the case, Cumberland County Deputy District Attorney Megan Elam, confirmed in a phone interview that she agreed with the decision but declined to comment further on the case.

Ricci has been in and out of jail for years for convictions on public exposure and masturbation charges. In the most recent case, Ricci had been out of jail for only a week on Aug. 12 when police caught him naked on his front porch, masturbating within sight of busy Brighton Avenue.

Richard commended the prosecutor for “keeping an open mind” to try to get Ricci help. He said it’s too easy for someone like Ricci to get sent to jail, receive no rehabilitation and then commit the same crime again.

“When that happens, the rest of us can fall victim of crimes, things that we shouldn’t be victims of,” Richard said. “This is not done, but this is a step in the right direction.”

 

Staff Writer Scott Dolan can be contacted at: 791-6304 or at

sdolan@mainetoday.com