HARPSWELL — Neighbors say an 83-year-old Harpswell man who has been charged with five counts of child sexual abuse was a hard worker who kept an eye out for neighbors and did not raise their suspicions.

Eugene Bergeron has been held on $100,000 bail since his arrest last month on the charges, some of which date back more than 20 years.

He and his wife, Glenda Bergeron, live in a trailer on Elton Farm Road. She declined to comment Saturday.

Bergeron was arrested at his home on Jan. 19 after a long investigation, said Lt. Donald Foss of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s office.

Two neighbors, Debbie and Rich Kelly, said they saw a sheriff deputy’s car at the Bergeron house before the holidays in December and then three cruisers in the middle of last month, presumably when Bergeron was arrested. They said they never saw deputies taking Bergeron out of the house. They also said they didn’t see him after the December visit by sheriff’s officials and later heard that Bergeron had been hospitalized.

Foss said investigators are keeping the case open because they believe that other victims may come forward.

Bergeron has been charged with two counts of gross sexual assault, a Class A felony, and three counts of unlawful sexual contact, a Class B felony. Those charges involve three different victims, all of whom were known to Bergeron, and the alleged abuse occurred between 1996 and 2007. One victim was under the age of 14, Foss said, while the other two were older than 14 but younger than 18.

Foss did not offer any details about the alleged abuse, but said the high bail set at Bergeron’s arraignment is a sign that the allegations are serious.

Another neighbor, Philip Nedza, said Bergeron was a Korean War veteran.

He also said the couple’s trailer was frequently visited by Glenda Bergeron’s family members.

“He had a small family and she had a large family,” Nedza said. “All I saw were a lot of different family members and boyfriends of family members going through. He didn’t seem to like that sort of thing, but he didn’t really say anything.”

Nedza said that, even though he was in his 80s, Bergeron worked hard, clamming, cutting grass in the neighborhood and plowing driveways in the winter. He also worked for car dealers, Nedza said, driving cars to auction sites.

“He was a worker,” Nedza said Saturday.

Bergeron also kept an eye on comings and goings in the small neighborhood, Nedza said. One time, Nedza allowed some friends to stay at his house, which abuts Card Cove, for fishing. When Bergeron spotted them, Nedza said, he made a point of asking them who they were and if they had permission to use Nedza’s house.

Nedza said he never saw anything suspicious about Bergeron’s behavior around children.

The Kellys also said they never saw anything going on that made them suspicious, but they agreed with Nedza that there was a lot of activity around Bergeron’s house, with relatives stopping in all the time.

Since Bergeron’s arrest, they said, the house has been quieter.

Glenda Bergeron apparently often baby-sat for her grandchildren, they said, but that seems to have ended since mid-January.

“All the kids and grandkids have disappeared,” Debbie Kelly said.

A criminal background check with the Maine State Bureau of Identification shows that Bergeron was charged with breaking and entering in 1957, when he would have been in his 20s, and was convicted of burglary in 1978.

The records show he was charged in 1995 with four counts of gross sexual assault and one count of unlawful sexual contact, but they don’t indicate that he was convicted of those charges. He is not a registered sex offender.

Foss said he was unaware of any prior abuse convictions.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]

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