WISCASSET – An 80-year-old Somerville woman previously convicted of 15 misdemeanor animal cruelty charges was found guilty Friday of assaulting a deputy who was checking to see if she was abiding by bail conditions.

Jurors also found her guilty of keeping two cats in violation of conditions of her release.

Fern Clark remains free on bail pending sentencing.

A jury in Lincoln County Superior Court deliberated for about an hour before returning its verdicts. Jurors convicted her of the assault and of two counts of violating conditions of release.

The offenses occurred on Oct. 30, 2008, while she was awaiting trial on the animal cruelty charges that were filed nine months earlier.

Clark testified in her own defense, saying the kittens were left at her home at 8 p.m. and were to be taken to a shelter the next morning.

Clark’s attorney, Andrews Campbell, said Clark testified that if she didn’t keep them, their owner planned to drown them.

“She was the only place available,” he said. “She did not wish to see them drowned.”

Campbell said that less than an hour after the animals were brought to her home, two deputies from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department and an animal control officer arrived and searched the home.

The kittens were found in a cage in the kitchen. Campbell said Clark resisted when a deputy tried to handcuff her.

“So an 80-year-old woman, contrary to a bail condition, had two kittens left overnight in her home, and resisted being arrested when the police came in her bedroom,” Campbell said. “The jury has spoken.”

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wright said Clark struck the deputy with a phone. The deputy was uninjured.

Wright said the maximum sentence on the assault conviction is 364 days in jail, and the maximum sentence is six months on each of the violating conditions of release. He said they could be served consecutively, but he said that is unlikely to happen.

A year ago, the same judge, Justice Andrew Horton, found Clark guilty of the animal cruelty charges and sentenced her to a series of 10 60-day jail sentences, all suspended; and 10 years of administrative release.

The judge also banned her from keeping any animals for 10 years.

She had been accused of 21 animal-cruelty charges after state animal welfare agents seized 66 live dogs, two dead dogs, four cats and a bird from Clark’s home on Jan. 19, 2008. Horton acquitted Clark of the five most serious charges.

For years, Clark ran a state-licensed kennel in her Somerville home.


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