AUGUSTA — Oral arguments are set for Tuesday in an appeal by a Sidney man serving 50 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl and recording those attacks on his cellphone.

Eric L. Bard, 26, pleaded guilty in August 2014, on the second day of his jury trial, to 11 charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, seven charges of gross sexual assault on a child under 12, two charges of unlawful sexual contact and one charge of assault.

The offenses occurred between Dec. 1, 2011, and April 30, 2012, while Bard was baby-sitting the girl in Augusta. Investigators say he had befriended the child’s mother in 2010.

Bard, through attorneys Gina Yamartino and Ronald Bourget, is appealing three rulings by a judge in the case – those about Bard’s competence to stand trial, admittance of evidence found on a cellphone memory card, and the length of the sentence.

Bard pleaded guilty on the condition that those rulings would be reviewed.

Yamartino is expected to argue on behalf of the defense Tuesday when the Maine Supreme Judicial Court sits at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.

The state, through the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Paul Rucha, wants the judge’s decisions and the sentence upheld, although Rucha said the sentence hearing could be reopened to allow the judge to memorialize his reasons for imposing consecutive sentences of 30 and 20 years.


Bard’s appeal hearing is the first of 18 cases set for oral arguments in a three-day session by the high court in Augusta.

Bard, who is serving his sentence at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, is not expected to attend. Generally prisoners do not attend oral argument sessions of the state supreme court.

Bard’s release date from prison is Feb. 20, 2061, according to the website of the state Department of Corrections.

Justice Donald Marden, who sentenced Bard, ordered him to serve a lifetime of supervised release once he has finished the jail term. “The effect on this young girl is monumental,” Marden said at the sentencing hearing. “When you do this, you destroy the person.”

Bard’s attorneys say in their written brief that Bard was not mentally competent to enter a plea or work with his attorneys and cite expert opinions from those who evaluated Bard. “All the professionals that came into contact with Eric spoke to his questionable abilities,” they wrote.


They also say the state police investigators overstepped their bounds by taking a memory card while searching Bard’s home and room for computers.

“Eric maintains that any consent given to search his bedroom was consent for the police to look specifically for computers, not a general consent to search his entire bedroom, and certainly not consent for all electronic devices or external memory cards such as the SC card that was a memory card meant for a cellphone, not a computer,” they wrote.

Bard also objected to the seizure of the card at the time.

In a separate reply brief, the defense attorneys also say that the consent form signature purporting to be Bard’s is not his and does not resemble the signatures on two documents Bard signed in court.

Rucha, in his written brief, maintains that Marden properly concluded that Bard was mentally competent, that the memory card would have been located and eventually searched anyway, and that the sentence was proper. However, Rucha also wrote that the sentence could be sent back to the superior court for the judge to include the reasons he imposed consecutive sentences: 30 years on the gross sexual assault charges and 20 years on the charges of sexual exploitation of a minor under 12.