June 24, 2013

Prosecutors drop charges in Portland gang rape case

The woman who was allegedly attacked has moved out of state and authorities could not find her.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Prosecutors dropped their case Monday against a Portland man who was charged with gang raping a woman at gunpoint last year, just as jury selection for his trial was about to begin.

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Prosecutors dismissed charges against Francis Mezan, 23, on Monday, June 24, 2013 related to a 2012 gang rape case. However, Mezan was sentenced to 44 months in jail for violating his probation from a 2010 case.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

The woman who allegedly was attacked on July 26 has moved out of Maine and authorities have been unable to find her to have her testify.

Francis Mezan, 23, whose DNA profile matched swabs taken from the woman, refused an offer last week to plead guilty to a single kidnapping charge in the case and a second count of kidnapping in the alleged gang rape of another woman in 2009. Mezan would have served three years in prison.

A second Portland man who was accused in both cases, Mohammed Abdi, 23, pleaded guilty last week to two counts of assault in a plea agreement in which he was sentenced to one year in jail. Mezan and Abdi contended that the sex with the woman in 2012 was consensual. The men who were with them that night were never identified.

Although prosecutors dismissed the charges against Mezan in the 2012 case, Justice Roland Cole left the option for the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office to indict him again on the same charges – kidnapping, gross sexual assault, assault and terrorizing – if authorities find the woman. The judge denied a motion by Mezan's attorney, Kristine Hanly, to have the case dismissed.

Cole also ordered Mezan to serve 44 months in prison for violating his probation from a previous conviction. Police say Mezan and Abdi were in a group of six men who drove the woman to the Sagamore Village housing development on July 26 and walked her to the nearby Hall Elementary School.

One of the men had a handgun, loaded it in front of the woman and put it to her head, demanding that she perform a sex act on him, police say. As she did, another man raped her. The men then continued to sexually assault her, according to court records.

Police responded at 2:47 a.m. to reports of a woman on Purchas Street yelling for help, saying she was going to be shot and had been raped by six men.

At the time of Mezan's arrest in December, he was on probation from a conviction for his role in 2010 in threatening two women at gunpoint and with a knife after accusing them of stealing drug money.

Mezan pleaded guilty in that case to two felony counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. He served four months of a four-year sentence before being released on probation.

The judge said he was familiar with Mezan's conviction in the 2010 case, and said Mezan was given a favorable sentence because the women were "very reluctant" to testify, fearing retribution.

Cole found Mezan to be in violation of his probation for multiple drinking offenses and ordered him to serve the remaining 44 months for that conviction.

In the 2009 case, Mezan still is charged with kidnapping and four counts of gross sexual assault, felonies punishable by as much as 30 years in prison, and a misdemeanor count of criminal threatening.

Mezan, who was born in Sudan, faces deportation because of his felony convictions.

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

sdolan@pressherald.com 

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