A Portland man who has been in and out of jail for years because of his history of masturbating in public and assaultive behavior will soon be released again after being acquitted this week of the latest charges against him.

Steven Ricci, 52, was found not guilty Friday after a three-day jury trial in the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland on two felony charges of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon.

Ricci remains held in jail for now, for violating his probation by cutting off his GPS monitoring bracelet from a prior felony assault conviction. In 2013, he groped a female nurse at Mercy Hospital in Portland. But Ricci’s attorney, Mark Bullock, said he expects that Ricci will be set free soon because he had already spent about six months in custody for that violation.

Ricci was on trial this week in connection with a Portland police case stemming from his arrest Dec. 10, about a month after he had been released from nearly three years in prison in the nurse assault case. He was accused of using a kitchen knife to threaten a Portland police behavioral health coordinator and an intern as the two women went to check on Ricci at his home at 915 Brighton Ave. It was the same incident in which he cut the bracelet off his leg in a violent outburst, according to police.

When Ricci was released from prison in the nurse assault case last Nov. 6, Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck held a news conference to warn the public that Ricci would be free in the community.

“His mental status and mental capabilities make him extremely high risk to reoffend here in our community,” Sauschuck said at the time.

Ricci, who was born with brain damage and has cerebral palsy, has a criminal history extending to the early 1990s, with more than a dozen convictions. His offenses include indecent conduct, assault and violation of conditions of release. His various lawyers, law enforcement officials and others have not been able to find him a suitable treatment program.

In this week’s trial, Ricci testified in his own defense after the jury heard from the behavioral health coordinator, the intern and the arresting police officer, among others.

Ricci’s speech is impaired and often difficult to understand, but Bullock said the jury seemed to understand that he did not mean to threaten anyone with the knife.

“A lot of it came down to what Steve was intending to do at that time, whether he had any malicious intention or whether he wanted to hurt anyone,” Bullock said when reached by phone after the verdict.

Ricci’s sentence in the nurse assault case was 44 months. He initially served 33 months, but has been held without bail since his arrest in December and will get credit for that time, Bullock said.

“We still have to resolve the probation violation,” Bullock said. “We are going to set it as soon as possible so he can go free.”

Bullock said Ricci’s cutting off the GPS bracelet was a technical probation violation, not a new criminal offense, so he expects the time he has already served awaiting trial will be sufficient.

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

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