Friday, March 7, 2014
By Betty Adams firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUSTA — A 23-year-old Sidney man accused of raping a 4-year-old girl he was baby-sitting and recording the acts has yet to enter a plea more than eight months after he was charged.
Eric Bard was indicted last August by a grand jury in Kennebec County on 21 counts of sexually related assault and contact, all of which name the same child as a victim.
His arraignment — already delayed several times — was postponed again Tuesday.
"I do not feel an arraignment would work today," Bard's attorney, Ronald Bourget, told Justice Nancy Mills. "He is not in a position to proceed."
Bourget said a competency evaluation of Bard's mental health indicated "some rudimentary issues." Such evaluations are later used to help a judge determine whether a defendant is competent to stand trial.
The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Joelle Pratt, did not object.
Mills set a May 28 competency hearing for Bard in Kennebec County Superior Court. Bard remains in the Kennebec County jail in lieu of bail, and Bourget said he expects him to remain there.
On Tuesday, Bard, seen with long hair and a mustache, sat with a dozen other inmates brought over from the jail. He kept his head bowed and covered by his hair during most of the hearing.
Bard was indicted on 11 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and seven counts of gross sexual assault, all class A felonies; and two counts of unlawful sexual contact, a class B crime. Bard also was charged with one count of assault.
An indictment is not a determination of guilt, but it is an indication that there is enough evidence to proceed with formal charges and a trial in superior court.
Part of the court delay has resulted from postponements requested by Bard's attorneys and a wait for a bed at the Riverview Psychiatric Center, the state's mental health hospital.
Bard, who was arrested last July, was baby-sitting the child when the alleged offenses occurred, according to an affidavit filed with the court by Detective Christopher Tremblay of the Maine State Police.
The affidavit details the investigation by officers beginning in mid-May, when a woman contacted police with concerns about a Craigslist ad in which a person said he was interested in giving young children baths. Bard later admitted having posted the ad, according to Tremblay's affidavit.
Police said Bard told them on June 19 that there were six computers in his home, all of which might contain child pornography. Bard allegedly said he recently had sold and sent one computer to Virginia.
Police got a search warrant to examine a portable memory device that reportedly held pictures of a young girl with Bard. He allegedly identified the child and said he baby-sat for her. The girl's mother said Bard often watched the girl in his home and the girl's home while her mother worked.
Betty Adams — 621-5631