AUGUSTA — A man accused of the gross sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl told a Maine State Police detective he knew what he had done was wrong, according to a taped interview played in court Thursday.

Sitting in an unmarked cruiser, Travis Gerrier knew his words were being recorded.

First he castigated himself. “Part of me knows it’s wrong,” he said.

Then he spoke directly to the 11-year-old girl he is accused of sexually assaulting in a portable outhouse in a North Belgrade parking lot. “If you hear this tape, I want you to know I’m sorry for everything. I never meant to hurt you in any way. I’m truly sorry for what happened today.”

Gerrier, of Dixmont, was 21 on the night of June 3-4, 2015, when he and the girl – who had been reported missing – were found by family members and police in the outhouse, where he said they had gone for warmth and privacy from passing vehicles. Gerrier was living in Belgrade at the time.

The 98-minute recording made early on June 4 by state police Detective Ryan Brockway was played over the audio system at the Capital Judicial Center.

Gerrier’s attorney, Sherry Tash, maintains that confession, which Brockway extracted via a series of questions, as well as DNA samples from Gerrier, should be kept out of his criminal trial. Tash maintains that Gerrier, now 22, suffers too many mental health deficits to be able to give informed consent to any of it.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Michael Madigan, argued against suppressing the items.

“I don’t think the detective could have been more polite, more understanding, more conversational in his interactions with Travis,” Madigan said. “Exhortation to tell the truth is not coercion.”

Gerrier is charged with gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and furnishing liquor to a minor, as well as tampering with a victim and violating a condition of release. The latter two charges are dated Jan. 1-17, 2016, when Gerrier was out on bail with a condition prohibiting him from having contact with the girl. The state says he violated that. Gerrier pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Brockway testified that someone had told him Gerrier was “cognitively slow,” so he employed skills he had learned in courses about how to interview people with cognitive disabilities and autism.

On the tape, as Brockway told Gerrier he would not be arrested that night, Gerrier said, “I understand I made a mistake.”

Gerrier said the girl was a friend of his cousin, and he communicated with the girl via social media, arranging to walk to the parking lot to meet the night of June 3.

Initially Gerrier said, “I did kiss her, but that was like as a friend.”

After Brockway urged him to tell the truth and said, “You’re leaving stuff out,” Gerrier said he put whiskey in a Gatorade bottle and gave the girl some.

Gerrier also described details of the sexual assault.

“I know she’s underage and it makes me seem like a sex offender,” he said. “Honestly, I’m not like that. Honestly, I was not thinking straight at all.”

Afterward, Tash questioned Robert Riley, a clinical psychologist who evaluated Gerrier. Riley said Gerrier has been diagnosed with IQ problems, intellectual disability, mood disorder and social anxiety as well as some aspects of autism spectrum disorder.

Riley said Gerrier’s cognitive abilities were consistent with someone about age 11 or 12. “His level of functioning has been more childlike than someone his age,” he said.

In December 2016, Superior Court Justice Robert Mullen ruled that Gerrier was competent to stand trial.

Tash argued that admitting the interview and items would be “fundamentally unfair and a violation of due process.”

District Court Judge Evert Fowle said he would listen to the tape again before making a ruling on the defense motions.

Initially the prosecution had offered Gerrier a plea bargain that included nine months behind bars. That increased after Gerrier was charged with violating bail conditions by allegedly having Facebook contact with the girl and asking her to say that he did not force her to have sexual contact.

Then, after an incident on Aug. 11, 2016, when Gerrier was hauled kicking, screaming and cursing from an inmate-holding area of the courtroom, the state indicated it was seeking 20 years behind bars for Gerrier, according to an earlier hearing.

The outburst apparently occurred when Gerrier learned that pleading guilty meant he would have to register as a lifetime offender under the state’s Sex Offender Registration & Notification Act.

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

[email protected];