ALFRED — The woman on the witness stand in York County Superior Court pulled her red cardigan tighter around her.

Defense attorney Neal Weinstein was questioning her about her accusations that a former guard sexually assaulted her multiple times while she was incarcerated at a women’s transitional facility in Alfred. She had already spent hours Tuesday testifying about their alleged sexual encounters in a prison transport van, which he used to drive her between the facility and her job at a pizza dough manufacturer or her classes at a community college.

“Did you flirt with him?” Weinstein asked. “Is that why this event happened?”

“Are you asking, did I ask for it?” she answered. “No.”

“I’m asking, were you flirting with him when he picked you up?” Weinstein asked.

“No,” she answered.

“Did you tell him, ‘Are you crazy, what are you doing? Drive me back, I’m going to report you,’ ” Weinstein asked.

“I did not say I’m going to report you,” she responded. “That would be a pretty scary thing for an inmate to tell an officer.”

Joshua Dall-Leighton appears in the Alfred courtroom Monday, the first day of his trial. Dall-Leighton is accused of sexually assaulting a female inmate in his charge at the Southern Maine Reentry Center in Alfred. Press Herald photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Joshua Dall-Leighton, 34, is charged with five counts of gross sexual assault and one of unlawful sexual contact. The indictment charges that Dall-Leighton had supervisory or disciplinary authority over the woman because she was in custody at the time, which would make any sexual contact illegal under state law. All of the charges are felonies, and he has pleaded not guilty.

His trial began Monday. Twelve jurors and two alternates sat in the jury box. Four were women; 10 were men.

Dall-Leighton previously worked at the Southern Maine Reentry Center, which has since moved to Windham. The facility allows women who are near the end of their sentences to go to work, school and home on furlough.

The woman was convicted in January 2012 in Rockland of elevated aggravated assault, robbery and burglary. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison with all but six years suspended. She spent part of that sentence at the re-entry center, where she met Dall-Leighton. Now 34, she was released in 2016 and is on probation. The Portland Press Herald does not identify the victims of alleged sex crimes without their consent.

York County Assistant District Attorney Lauren Daley asked the woman to recount her allegations, and she described five instances of oral sex or sexual intercourse between December 2015 and February 2016. She said she noticed Dall-Leighton had taken an interest in her, commenting on her appearance or alluding to sexual games. But she did not report the change in his behavior.

“I was trying to go home,” she said. “I didn’t want to cause any disturbance.”

She testified that he was driving her back to the re-entry center after work one day in December when he pulled down a dirt road and parked the corrections van.

“He told me it was game time,” she said.

He allegedly performed oral sex on her that day. The other instances were similar – days when they were alone in the vehicle, driving to or from the re-entry center. After that first encounter and others, the woman said Dall-Leighton warned her that he would lose his job and health insurance for his sick child if she told anyone what had happened between them.

“He said several times, ‘If you tell, I’ll be a sex offender, I can’t be a sex offender,’ ” the woman testified Tuesday.

She said she did not protest because she worried he would create problems for her at the re-entry center if she denied him, and she did not report him because she did not want to lose privileges, like furloughs to see her children. Ultimately, she said, she drank alcohol on purpose so she would be sent back to the Maine Correctional Center in Windham and get away from him. But she said she told another inmate there about the alleged sexual assaults by Dall-Leighton, and that woman reported it in May 2016 and sparked the investigation. Dall-Leighton was indicted that November.

During cross-examination, the defense attorney asked the woman to repeat each allegation. He questioned her about facts she said she could not remember, like the amount of snow on the ground and whether Dall-Leighton used a condom. He focused on her delay in reporting, her initial denial to the investigating detective after he asked her about the other inmate’s report and her interactions with a civil attorney who filed a lawsuit on her behalf.

During one exchange, Weinstein asked her about her request for a job change at the re-entry center. She told her unit manager at the time that she wanted better hours and a different environment at work, but she testified that the other unspoken reason for the request was to separate herself from Dall-Leighton. She still had not reported sexual contact between them for fear of losing her privileges, she said.

“So you saw a benefit in lying to her because you didn’t want to lose things,” Weinstein said.

“That wasn’t a lie,” she said. “I told her part of the truth.”

“Part of the truth, not the whole truth,” the attorney responded.

Weinstein also asked her to read aloud explicit texts she sent to Dall-Leighton while she was at home on furlough. She said she felt pressured to send Dall-Leighton sexual messages and photographs, but she did not really want to do the sexual acts she wrote about in the messages.

“So you were being deceptive with him?” Weinstein asked.

“I really felt that I had to continue to play along,” she said.

At one point, she became upset and asked for a break.

“I don’t want to read this,” she said, holding a photograph of their text conversation. “I need a minute.”

While she was on the witness stand, the attorneys repeatedly interrupted each other with objections and frequently requested private conversations with the judge about evidence or a line of questioning. District Court Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz once scolded Weinstein for talking over the witness, and she was still on the stand when Moskowitz decided to end the day.

She will return Wednesday morning to continue her testimony.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.