AUGUSTA — A former captain with the Augusta Fire Department was ordered to serve a year and a half in prison for having sex with a 15-year-old girl at his Manchester home between April 2007 and April 2008.

A jury convicted Robert G. MacMaster, 40, now of Lincoln, on July 1 of one charge of sexual abuse of a minor.

He was sentenced Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court with the victim, now 19, and her mother watching from the rear of the small courtroom.

Justice Robert Murray sentenced MacMaster to four years in prison, with all but 11/2 years suspended and two years of probation.

Murray imposed probation conditions that ban MacMaster from contact with girls younger than 16 unless their parents or guardians are present, and ordered him to undergo sex-offender counseling.

The conviction also means MacMaster must register for 10 years under the state’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

MacMaster wore a green two-piece jail uniform Friday, in contrast to the suits and ties he wore while free on bail during trial. He did not speak at the hearing, except to acknowledge his right to appeal the sentence.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney James Mitchell Jr., argued for an initial three years behind bars, saying that, as a paramedic, MacMaster trained other paramedics about the state requirement to report suspected sexual abuse of minors.

“All firemen and paramedics are trained to recognize and report any illegal sexual activity between an adult and a minor,” Mitchell said in a sentencing memo. “It is not a wonder that the firemen the defendant worked with did not see anything more than ‘odd’ behavior since the defendant knew he would have to keep his relationship secret from the other mandatory reporters.”

MacMaster had been accused of having sex with the underage girl both at his family’s home in Manchester, where she lived occasionally, and at a city fire station. The charges spanned the years between April 7, 2006, and April 6, 2010. The Manchester charge was the only one for which the jury found him guilty.

The jury cleared him of a charge of gross sexual assault and three other charges of sexual abuse of a minor for incidents which allegedly occurred at the Western Avenue fire station.

In court Friday, the victim’s mother — who knew her daughter had been living with MacMaster and his family — accused him of breaking her trust.

“I just wanted to let ‘Mac’ know I trusted him with my daughter, as a parent, and he let me down,” she told the judge. “He told people he was giving her the life we couldn’t. I am upset because he didn’t look after her the way he would his own child.”

It is the policy of the Kennebec Journal not to identify victims of sexual abuse.

Sean Farris, MacMaster’s attorney, asked the judge to keep the sentence to nine months or less to keep MacMaster in the county jail system.

“This is a case where, despite the age difference, it was clear in courtroom testimony by (the victim) and my client that each one was in love with the other, and the relationship lasted until she was 18 or over,” Farris said.

But Murray said aggravating factors in his sentencing decision included MacMaster’s lack of remorse and his “numerous attempts to justify the relationship. There was no belief there was anything wrong with this relationship,” Murray said.

MacMaster was a firefighter/paramedic at the Augusta Fire Department for 17 years until he resigned July 7, 2009.

Soon after his resignation, MacMaster, who was president of the Augusta Uniformed Firefighters Union at the time, pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge for stealing union money. He was sentenced in January to 14 days in jail on that offense and ordered to pay $3,565.14 restitution, which he did.

The city of Augusta is seeking $20,224 as reimbursement from MacMaster for unemployment benefits he was awarded by the Unemployment Insurance Commission, according to Stephen Langsdorf, city attorney.

After the city appealed, one commissioner indicated he had voted incorrectly, and the award was later rescinded.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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