AUGUSTA — A Hallowell man will spend the next five years in prison for sex offenses committed 15 years ago.

William Thibodeau, 40, admitted last September he committed gross sexual assault and sexual abuse of a minor between April 1995 and April 1997. The female victim was 13 to 15 years old at the time.

That girl — now a woman — told Justice Nancy Mills about feeling guilt and shame for not being able to tell earlier what had happened.

“There has been a great deal of weight on my shoulders for some time now,” she said tearfully Tuesday in Kennebec County Superior Court. “I thought I could put it all behind me. Part of me still hates men.”

Thibodeau was indicted in June 2010 on three counts of gross sexual assault and two counts of sexual abuse of a minor between April 1993 and December 1997. All the charges said they occurred in Oakland.

In exchange for pleading guilty to one count of each charge, the others were dismissed.

Thibodeau was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with all but five years suspended and six years probation. Conditions of probation ban him from contact with girls younger than 18 except his own daughters.

The victim said she did not support the sentence recommended by prosecutor Assistant District Attorney Paul Rucha and Thibodeau’s attorney, Sherry Tash.

“I fear for his daughters the most,” the victim said. “His words were that he wished I was his own daughter, his own flesh and blood.”

The Kennebec Journal does not identify the victims of sex assaults.

Mills commended the victim for coming forward and said probation conditions requiring an approved supervisor when Thibodeau is with his young daughters will protect them.

Mills told her not to give herself a life sentence.

Thibodeau’s wife also spoke at the sentencing.

“You really have to consider his past 15 years,” she urged the judge. “He’s been a good man this whole time.”

Thibodeau apologized to the victim and told the judge, “I know I was wrong, and I know I did hurt her; I hope she can heal.

“I’m sorry I never took care of it sooner … I should have made the right decision years ago, but I didn’t.”

Thibodeau’s criminal record shows he was sentenced on Sept. 1, 1997, on one count of sex abuse of a minor and one count of domestic violence assault. He served 10 days in jail and completed sex offender counseling after that.

“If this had come to light in the late 1990s, all of these would have been dealt with at the same time,” Mills said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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