AUGUSTA — An Oakland man pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl who was being baby-sat by his wife.

Ronald M. Mullen, 57, was ordered to serve an initial four months behind bars, with the remainder of the five-year sentence suspended while he spends four years on probation.

Mullen had been ordered to undergo a mental evaluation after his initial court appearance, when he was so distraught that he kept running his fingers through his hair.

On Tuesday at the Capital Judicial Center, Mullen answered the judge’s questions in a low voice.

“He’s very nervous, your honor, ” said his defense attorney, Brad Grant.

Mullen pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful sexual contact that occurred Nov. 22, 2017, in Oakland. The charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

The girl’s mother spoke at the hearing, telling Mullen that he did “a horrible, selfish thing.”

“My usually bright and cheery child turned into an insecure one,” she said. “For days afterward, she asked me, ‘Am I still beautiful?'”

The woman said Mullen’s actions have torn her family apart.

“You have made it almost impossible to trust anyone at all,” she told Mullen.

The woman said her daughter says she will forgive Mullen, but the mother says she will not.

“You harmed an innocent child who told you several times to stop and you didn’t,” she said. “You turned our whole lives upside down; you make my worst nightmares come true.”

As she spoke, Mullen who was seated next to his attorney, cried and used a tissue to wipe his eyes.

Mullen spoke briefly in court, saying, “I’m very sorry, truly sorry.”

Justice Thomas E. Delahanty II imposed the sentence that was recommended by both the prosecution and the defense, saying it spared the young girl the ordeal of having to testify at trial and that it reflected the defendant’s lack of prior criminal convictions.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Michael Madigan, described the evidence the state would have presented if Mullen had gone to trial. Madigan said the girl told her mother that Mullen had “touched her privates” several times.

Madigan said the mother saw no sign of injury.

He also said Mullen initially denied to police that anything had occurred, but later said he touched the girl over her clothing and it only occurred once.

“First he said it was an accident, and later said it was more than playing,” Madigan said. “He would deny that the contact was skin-to-skin.”

Conditions of probation require Mullen to undergo sex offender evaluation and counseling, and prohibit him from contact with children under 16. The conviction classifies Mullen a lifetime registrant under the state’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Grant told the judge that Mullen tried to take responsibility for his actions as soon as possible in the case.

The victim’s mother sobbed as she left the courtroom, accompanied by the victim/witness advocate from the district attorney’s office.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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