ALFRED — A judge Friday slashed the $50,000 bail set for a former prison guard accused of sexually assaulting a female inmate to $1,000 cash, clearing the way for his supervised release from jail.

Bret Butterfield, 23, of Auburn has been in custody at the York County Jail in Alfred since his arrest on Aug. 26. He had only appeared in court by video link from the jail until his appearance in person Friday before Superior Court Justice Paul Fritzsche on a felony charge of gross sexual assault.

Butterfield was not required to enter a plea to the charge at the hearing in York County Superior Court and answered a series of questions posed to him by the judge. Fritzsche asked where Butterfield would live if he was released, about his family and his prospects for work since he relinquished his license to work as a guard for the Department of Corrections and quit his job.

Butterfield, who is married, is accused of having sex with the female inmate at the Southern Maine Re-entry Center for women, a state facility on the same county jail grounds where he has been held since his arrest. Butterfield allegedly had sex with her in a prison office, a prison bathroom, at her grandmother’s house in April while she was released on furlough, in prison transport vehicles and in a hospital room where she was taken while in custody to have her appendix removed.

Butterfield also is accused of having a sexual relationship with a different female inmate after she was released from the Southern Maine Re-entry Center last year and of making sexual advances toward other inmates under his supervision at the facility for women nearing the end of their prison sentences, according to an affidavit filed with the court by a Department of Corrections investigator seeking the warrant for Butterfield’s arrest.

The affidavit, by investigator David Verrier, documents multiple interviews he conducted with women who are current or former inmates of the Southern Maine Re-entry Center. Some of the statements the women made conflict with one another, but the inmate Butterfield is accused of assaulting told the investigator she did have sex with him while she was still an inmate, the 22-page report says.

Fritzsche is the same judge who authorized the arrest warrant to be issued last month based on the affidavit and set Butterfield’s original bail amount.

At Friday’s bail hearing, Butterfield appeared with the other inmates in the courtroom dressed in an orange jail uniform with his ankles cuffed together. His wife sat in the front row of the courtroom while other members of his family sat in back as Butterfield was called forward to stand before the judge beside his attorney, Neal Weinstein.

After a series of other questions, Fritzsche asked Butterfield where he would live if he was freed on bail.

“At my house in Auburn with my wife,” Butterfield replied.

“And she’d be willing to have you return?” Fritzsche asked.

Butterfield replied, “Yes,” as his wife nodded her head to the judge.

The judge reduced bail over a prosecutor’s objection with conditions that Butterfield submit to supervision by Maine Pretrial Services, have no contact with the current or former female inmates he once supervised, abide by a curfew and have no contact with juvenile females.

“This offense strikes at the heart of the criminal justice system,” said Assistant District Attorney Thaddeus West, arguing that the original $50,000 cash bail was “appropriate.”

Fritzsche listed many factors in his decision to lower bail, including Maine Pretrial Services’ willingness to accept a supervisory role over Butterfield from its Lewiston office and that Butterfield no longer poses a danger to inmates since he is no longer a guard.

Outside the courtroom after the hearing, Butterfield’s family members declined to speak to a reporter, but Weinstein said he believed they would be able to post the $1,000 cash bail or secured bond of $10,000 for his release while his case is pending.

By 4 p.m. Friday, Butterfield had not posted bail and remained in jail custody.

“We already have a lot of email traffic from the families of these women (inmates), that they were pressured into making these statements and that they are partially recanting those statements,” Weinstein said. “There have been a lot of inconsistencies from the women who made those statements. That raises some issues of reasonable doubt.”

Butterfield’s case is one of several recent allegations involving jail or prison guards in the state.

York County Sheriff Maurice Ouellette announced last week that seven current or former guards at the county jail have been indicted on charges of smuggling contraband items – drugs, cigarettes and a cellphone – to an inmate or for failing to report violations that they knew were taking place.

Also, the Department of Corrections is currently investigating hazing of rookie guards at the Maine State Prison in Warren by veteran guards and supervisors.

State Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, said this week that he is calling on Department of Corrections officials to come testify on Sept. 23 before the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, which he co-chairs.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

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