AUGUSTA — A Waterville couple accused of multiple counts of gross sexual assault involving a child pleaded guilty to lesser charges, with both sentenced to jail time.

Michael A. Stevens, 37, was sentenced to three years, with five years suspended, and four years probation. Jennifer L. Stevens, 36, was sentenced to 18 months, with 3½ years suspended, as well as four years’ probation.

The couple was charged in February 2018 with sexually assaulting a young girl. They faced additional charges of gross sexual assault after an indictment in April 2018 in which they were accused of sexually assaulting two other children as well.

They each pleaded guilty instead, in a plea agreement reached with state prosecutors, to felony charges of unlawful sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said while she sought a longer sentence, the resolution agreed to by both sides resulted in guilty pleas – and spared the victim from having to take the stand.

“The victim told us she is in support of this plea,” Maloney said Thursday. “It’s not exactly what I was seeking, but it prevents a trial and the victim having to describe what she went through on the witness stand, to strangers. We would have had to put her on the stand to prove the case.”

Maloney said the gross sexual assault charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

Stephen C. Smith, Michael Stevens’s attorney, said Stevens denied doing anything wrong, and continues to do so, despite the guilty plea. He said his client does not take any responsibility for the charges made against him and took the plea deal because he could have faced 20 or more years in prison if the case went to trial and he was found guilty.

“It’s an unfortunate result because my client denied this all from day one and continues to deny anything happened,” said Smith, of Augusta-based law firm Lipman & Katz. “My client made a rational choice based on his own assessment of the risk of trial.”

Probation conditions for both include a ban on contact with the victim or with anyone under 18 without supervision, that they attend sex offender counseling, and they be placed on the state’s sex offender registry. Maloney said Michael Stevens, who pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual contact class B, a more serious charge than Jennifer Stevens’ class C charge, will remain on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life, while Jennifer Stevens will remain on the registry for 25 years.

The plea and sentencing agreement was reached late last month.

The charges against the pair that were dismissed alleged they sexually assaulted a child under the age of 12 over a four-year period, from Oct. 25, 2010, to Oct. 25, 2014, in Kennebec County.

An affidavit filed in the case says the couple told the girl that she would “lose her guardian angels” if she did not cooperate with the sexual assaults. The girl also said the man would whip her and other girls with a belt, and that their food was limited, according to the affidavit filed by Waterville police Detective Kyle McDonald in the case against Jennifer Stevens.

The girl said the abuse happened during the day and at night, stopping only when she was living in a homeless shelter in Waterville, and also took place in Fairfield. The girl said the abuse made her so sick that she vomited and “was made to swallow her own vomit” by Michael Stevens.

McDonald said the girl said Michael Stevens took pictures of some of the sexual assaults and “made her swear on her guardian angels that she wouldn’t tell anyone about it.”

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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