AUGUSTA — A mental health worker at Riverview Psychiatric Center was arrested Thursday on a charge he sexually assaulted a 50-year-old mentally ill former patient there who remains under outpatient supervision.

Wayne F. Lewis, 65, of Augusta, was charged with gross sexual assault and was held overnight in the Kennebec County jail in lieu of $15,000 cash bail pending a court hearing Friday afternoon.

At that hearing, District Court Judge Eric Walker lowered bail to $1,000 after learning that Lewis had no prior criminal record.

Bail conditions also require Lewis to be monitored under a Maine Pretrial Supervision contract, and he is prohibited from being on any property associated with the state hospital or any outpatient centers operated by it. He is also prohibited from contact with any Riverview patients and from contact with the victim named in the complaint.

The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General William Savage, told the judge that Lewis had cooperated with the investigator.

Lewis indicated he would be seeking his own attorney to represent him rather than applying for a court-appointed attorney.

At Friday’s hearing, he was represented by the lawyer of the day, Kevin Sullivan, who said that Lewis has worked at Riverview for almost five years and is aware of the locations operated by Riverview.

Lewis, however, sought clarification and was told he would be allowed to have contact with Riverview employees.

The woman who claimed to be the victim, who lives in supervised housing but not the hospital itself, reported the assault to a Riverview worker.

Riverview is the state’s forensic hospital that treats people with severe and persistent mental illness, including those charged with crimes and those found not criminally responsible for crimes because of mental illness.

According to the complaint, the offense occurred Jan. 10 at Lewis’ home in Augusta. The victim named in the complaint had permission to be on her own in the community.

Investigator Jeffrey Wrigley from the Maine Attorney General’s Office, in an affidavit filed in Augusta District Court, wrote that Lewis, a mental health worker I, works directly with patients who reside on the Upper Saco Unit of Riverview. That unit is where the longer-term, more stable forensic patients reside and receive treatment.

Lewis admitted having a relationship with the woman that involved telephone calls, walks in the woods and, most recently, sexual intercourse at his home earlier this week, according to Wrigley’s affidavit.

Lewis is charged under a section of the Maine Criminal Code that says someone commits Class C gross sexual assault if the person engaging in the sexual conduct “is an employee of an organization, program or residence that is operated, administered, licensed or funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and the other person, not the actor’s spouse, receives services from the organization, program or residence and suffers from a mental disability that is reasonably apparent or known to the actor.”

A conviction under this section carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Lewis’ next court appearance is scheduled for March 4 in the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.

The charges against the Riverview worker come at a troubling time for the state hospital, which has been the scene of a number of assaults by patients on staff members within the hospital itself, and which lost federal funding support in September 2013 amid growing criticism of safety and operations there.

The funding withdrawal, which amounts to about $20 million a year in reimbursement, came after federal regulators received reports that corrections officers working at the facility used a stun gun on a patient.

Corrections officers were removed from the facility and were replaced by unarmed acuity specialists, who monitor patients who have been committed assaults in the past.

One high-profile assault occurred in March 2013. Patient Mark P. Murphy first apologized and then attacked Jamie Hill-Spotswood, a mental health worker, beating her in the head and leaving her with a pen point embedded in her hand.

In an incident in December 2013, a patient, Arlene Edson, says she was pepper-sprayed and left for hours in restraints with the irritating substance on her skin despite the fact that she was compliant and not threatening the staff.

The nurse who gave the approval for a corrections officer to use the pepper spray was later fired. Edson was most recently in the Kennebec County jail on charges she assaulted staff members at Riverview.

Charges remain pending against another man, Frank Stewart, who is accused of attacking a nurse with a chair in August 2014, causing serious injuries to her face and eye.

Some of the problems at the state hospital resulted in legislative action that helped create a special mental health unit inside the Maine State Prison that is used to house inmates convicted of crimes who also suffer from mental illness.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

[email protected]