PORTLAND – A Portland man who has described his violent sexual desires to authorities was convicted Friday for masturbating in front of a woman in the Fore River Sanctuary.

In a bench trial before District Court Judge E. Mary Kelly, Steven Ricci was found guilty of the misdemeanor charge of indecent conduct. Because he has been convicted of indecent conduct twice within the past decade, he faces as much as a year in jail rather than the usual six months. He is to be sentenced Thursday.

Ricci has spoken freely to authorities in the past about his rape fantasies, including a detailed plan about hiding in a women’s bathroom at a visitors center in Freeport or Yarmouth. That information, along with his history of exposing himself and using physical force, has alarmed authorities. His attorney has described Ricci’s disclosures as part of his desire to get help.

Much of Friday’s trial focused on the witness’ identification of Ricci as the man at Jewell Falls, in the sanctuary. The woman said that on Aug. 16, she saw him at the bottom of the falls and he followed her to the top.

There, she said, he made a noise as though he was trying to get her attention. When she turned, she said, he had his shirt pulled up and his pants pulled down and he was masturbating.

The woman said she began walking away and then ran the rest of the way to her car.

When she arrived home, she called a friend, Portland Trails and Portland police. The woman spoke to officers at her home that evening. Two days later, she identified Ricci in a photo lineup.

On Friday, the woman was asked by Deputy District Attorney Meg Elam whether the man was in the courtroom. The woman answered that he was, and pointed to Ricci.

J.P. DeGrinney, Ricci’s court-appointed attorney, questioned the woman about discrepancies between the description she gave to police and Ricci’s physical characteristics.

The woman had described the man on the trail as being in his 20s or 30s, having dirty blond or light brown hair and standing about 6-foot-2.

Ricci is 47. He has dark hair. And his criminal record lists his height variously as 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-11.

DeGrinney also suggested that a police dispatcher had influenced the woman’s lineup choice by asking whether the man was “goofy looking.” Ricci has cerebral palsy, and in his photo his head is angled back and his mouth is open.

Ricci grew agitated while Kelly explained the verdict. His tics became more frequent, he made a weaving motion with his head and he sucked his thumb.

At one point, he raised his hand and stood, prompting his attorney to tell him to sit down.

DeGrinney said after the proceeding that Ricci maintains his innocence but it’s likely that he will serve out his sentence before an appeal is heard. He has been in jail since his arrest Aug. 19, and that time will count toward his sentence.

In 2006, Ricci was charged with attempted sexual abuse of a minor after following a 15-year-old girl in his truck in North Yarmouth. Ricci told police that he wanted to persuade her to have sex. He eventually pleaded guilty to indecent conduct.

Later, Ricci was jailed for a probation violation.

In January 2008, when it appeared that he would be released, the University of Southern Maine issued a safety alert.

Later in 2008, to resolve the charge of violating conditions of release, arrangements were made for Ricci to go to an out-of-state treatment program.

When he returned to Portland, police put up fliers in February 2010 around his home on Brighton Avenue.

DeGrinney said Friday that Ricci continues to want counseling.

“It’s my hope that the policymakers and the people in control of the purse strings will help Mr. Ricci’s needs,” he said.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

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