AUGUSTA — A girl who was 11 when she was sexually assaulted in June 2015 in a portable outhouse in a North Belgrade parking lot sent a letter to the judge asking him to give her attacker the maximum sentence available.

“I’m never happy any more, just sad and depressed,” the girl wrote. “I want to be happy again.”

The victim’s letter was read aloud by the prosecutor Tuesday morning during a sentencing hearing for Travis R. Gerrier, now 23, of Belgrade and Dixmont. Neither the girl nor her mother, who had been at previous hearings, were in the courtroom at the Capital Judicial Center to watch the sentence imposed.

Assistant District Attorney Kristin Murray-James asked the judge to send Gerrier to prison for 20 years followed by a lifetime of supervised release, saying the public and particularly other 11-year-old girls, need to be protected from him. Murray-James said Gerrier preyed on a fifth-grader, brought alcohol to their meeting and locked the port-a-potty door during the sexual assault. The two had met once in person before that night but exchanged a number of messages via Facebook.

Gerrier’s defense attorney, Sherry Tash, cited Gerrier’s cognitive disabilities and said various evaluators found that he had the mind of an 11- or 12-year-old himself. She suggested a sentence of time served — 21 to 22 months — followed by 10 years of supervised release.

Tash said Gerrier used those messages to contact a fellow loner who was being bullied.

“He’s telling her, ‘Don’t cut yourself, Don’t take pills. I don’t want you to hurt yourself,'” she said.

Justice Donald Marden sentenced Gerrier to seven years in prison followed by 20 years of supervised release. Gerrier also must register as a lifetime sex offender under the state’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Gerrier entered conditional guilty pleas Aug. 21 to charges of gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and furnishing liquor to a minor in connection with the events the night of June 3-4, 2015. The guilty pleas are conditional on his appeal of earlier rulings, in which he was found competent to stand trial and a judge refused to suppress a confession Gerrier made to a state police detective. Those appeals will be heard by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court now that the sentencing is concluded. If the appeals are successful, he can withdraw those pleas.

Eight of Gerrier’s family members watched the hearing, and several spoke to the judge in court. His mother, Jennifer MacArthur, described her son’s struggles throughout his life. She told the judge Gerrier can’t tell time by looking at a clock and has no concept of miles or years.

“He carved the word ‘sorry’ in his arm with a razor blade,” she said after he was told he had hurt the victim, who he believed was a friend.

She referred to an August 2016 incident in which Gerrier was kicking and screaming in court. At the time it was anticipated that he would plead guilty to reduced charges and be sentenced to nine months in prison.

“He didn’t act out,” she said. “It was sensory overload.”

Gerrier himself briefly addressed the judge, saying, “I just want to say I apologize for my outburst that day and that I am extremely sorry for my actions and what I done. If I could take this back I would, but I can’t. I’m not asking that anyone forgive me, but if they did, it would mean a lot.”

He added that he hoped to have a better life. He spend much of the hearing writing, his head just inches from a pad of paper on the defense table. He was not wearing his glasses.

Family members and police found the two in the port-a-potty that night, according to information from earlier hearings. The girl, who had been reported missing, came out first, and then police found Gerrier sitting on the ground inside. He said they had gone there for warmth and privacy from passing vehicles.

Gerrier was interviewed on the scene by Maine State Police Detective Ryan Brockaway. The 98-minute recording made early on June 4, 2015, was played over the audio system in a courtroom during the suppression hearing in April 2017.

Murray-James said Gerrier told a sheriff’s deputy, “I did nothing wrong; she’s just my friend.”

Before imposing sentence, Marden provided his reasons. He asked rhetorically, “Do we have an intellectually deficient individual who is a danger to society as he grows in stature and size, a person who is a predator in the community, which calls for significant restraint? Or do we have a person so lacking in education and understanding that he is a candidate for education, counseling and treatment to basically give him the social skills to understand proper inhibitions?”

Marden said he concluded that Gerrier knew what he was doing was wrong but did not understand the ramification of what he did.

The judge said the 20 years of supervised release — during which Gerrier could be returned to prison for any time of years for violating it — would help assure that he will not re-offend as well as allow him to understand the consequences of his actions and “give him tools to become a productive member of society.”

He ordered that psychological evaluations of Gerrier be shared with prison and probation officials and asked them to take notice of the recommendation that Gerrier is best suited for individual rather than group counseling because of his intellectual disabilities.

Conditions of the release prohibit Gerrier from contact with girls under 16 and with the victim and her family.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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Twitter: @betadams