AUGUSTA — A former Oakland woman went on trial Tuesday for the second time on a charge of gross sexual assault on a 3-year-old boy.

A jury on Jan. 19 cleared Sarah B. Conway, 28, now of Canaan, New Hampshire, of two counts of unlawful sexual contact but deadlocked on the more serious charge of gross sexual assault of a 3-year-old boy. A conviction on that charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

The trial continues Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. with attorneys giving closing arguments. Conway remains free on bail but is prohibited from contact with children under 16 except for supervised contact once a month with a toddler daughter. The re-trial began Tuesday with Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh telling jurors they would hear testimony about Conway and her then-boyfriend, Stephen R. Smith sexually assaulting the boy more than two years ago in Oakland. Smith told Conway he liked child pornography and tried to get her interested in it, Cavanagh said. Cavanaugh said Conway would likely testify that Smith forced her into the sexual act.

Defense attorney Sherry Tash told jurors it’s going to be a “he-said, she said” case and comes down to the credibility of witnesses. “Don’t just listen to what happened, but why it happened,” Tash told jurors.

Tash said Conway went to the police in Canaan, New Hampshire, about the assault after she and Smith moved there to live with her family.

Smith, 38, is serving 18 years after pleading guilty to three counts of unlawful sexual contact, two counts of visual sexual aggression against a child and one count of sexual misconduct with a child under 12. He is serving his sentence at the Maine State Prison in Warren.

Smith testified Tuesday that the couple connected through an online dating site, and then met for the first time at his Oakland apartment, where they had sex and she stayed the night.

“I told her that I had an interest in younger kids,” he testified. “I didn’t watch it much with her because she didn’t have one opinion or another about it.”

When asked about the incident involving the young boy, which occurred between Dec. 1, 2014, and March 31, 2015, he said they fondled the boy after removing his diaper.

“Did she tell you she didn’t want to participate?” Cavanaugh asked.

“No, I never forced her,” Smith testified.

Conway broke off their engagement when they were in New Hampshire, and Smith stayed on her family’s property, living in a tent behind the house.

Smith said Tuesday he agreed to testify against Conway “because someone like that shouldn’t be around their kids, basically,” a remark Justice Donald Marden ordered jurors to disregard.

Tash gave him a transcript of his prior trial testimony, in which he said Conway did not watch child pornography with him.

“She told you she didn’t like it,” Tash said.

“I don’t remember that, but OK,” Smith said.

Conway took the stand in her own defense Tuesday afternoon, saying Smith compelled her to commit the assault.

In recorded interviews with Canaan police Sgt. Ryan Porter, Conway said Smith threatened her if she reported him. “He said he would make it look like I was 100 percent willingly involved.” She said Smith told her, “If you ever tell anyone, you’ll never see your kids again.”

She said she cried after the assault and went to the police after her family learned about Smith assaulting children.

“I just want people to understand that I would never choose to do anything,” Conway said.

Prior to the start of the January trial, Conway pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child under 16 on Dec. 1, 2014, and March 31, 2015. She was acquitted of two counts of visual sexual aggression.

One juror, Debra Lamontagne of Oakland, spoke immediately after the January trial concluded, saying jurors did not believe that Conway had committed the unlawful sexual contact offenses for her own sexual gratification – one of the elements needed to find someone guilty of that charge.

However, Lamontagne also said 11 of 12 jurors voted to find Conway guilty of the gross sexual assault charge. The one juror would not change her vote.

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

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Twitter: @betadamss