The state’s highest court this week rejected a Skowhegan man’s appeal of his conviction on two counts of gross sexual assault after engaging in an improper sexual relationship with an 18-year-old girl who was enrolled in the man’s driving education course.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court in a ruling Thursday turned away the appeal by Duane Marquis, who was arrested in 2019 by the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office on two counts of gross sexual assault.

Duane Marquis Somerset County Sheriff’s Office

The sheriff’s office at the time said Marquis held a driver education program at Carrabec High School in Anson and said that’s where the girl was enrolled.

On two occasions in March 2019 Marquis picked up the girl at school under the pretense of having her practice her driving but instead took her to a motel where they had sex, according to Thursday’s ruling.

The state statute defining gross sexual assault explains that a person is guilty of the crime if the person engages in a sexual act with a student at an educational institution and “is a teacher, employee or other official having instructional … authority over the student,” according to the ruling.

But Marquis, who was 57 at the time of his arrest, argued before the high court that he couldn’t fall under the definition of “other official.” Marquis was not employed by the school where he held his driver education course.


As the court noted in its ruling, “Marquis contends that more evidence of a formalized relationship with the school was required for the court to find that he was an ‘other official’ under the statute.”

The Skowhegan court where Marquis was convicted interpreted an official “to encompass anyone who, by virtue of his or her role within the school, although not actually employed by the school, had the ability to exert pressure over students, such that (a student’s) consent to sexual contact may not be free and voluntary,” according to the ruling.

The lower court said Marquis had been “cloaked in authority” by the school and “imbued with authority” over the students he taught.

“The theme common across these definitions is that an official is someone whom an organization has empowered to exercise authority. It is in fact the organization’s investiture of authority in an individual that enables the individual to act ‘officially,'” the high court said.

Following his conviction, Marquis was sentenced to 30 months of prison with all but three months suspended. He also was given two years of probation.

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