SKOWHEGAN — A 28-year-old Palmyra man will spend nine months in jail for running away with a 14-year-old girl to South Carolina last summer and having sex with her.

The man, Robert L. Cray III, was sentenced Aug. 2 in Somerset County Superior Court to four years in jail, with all but nine months suspended, on a felony charge of sexual abuse of a minor. An additional charge of criminal restraint was dismissed by the prosecution, according to court filings.

Cray is also required to serve two years of probation in which conditions mandate that he complete counseling and not contact the victim. He must register with the Maine State Sex Offender Registry for 10 years.

He had faced a maximum sentence of five years.

The case began July 2, 2010, when a Hartland mother called police to say her 14-year-old daughter had left home early in the morning, leaving a note that said she needed “me time,” according to a police affidavit filed with the court. The mother told the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office she believed her daughter had run away with Cray, who used to live with them.

Police eventually tracked Cray to South Carolina after he called the mother from a Walmart pay phone there.

Although Cray said he was in Florida and didn’t know where the girl was, a Walmart employee later provided police with surveillance footage showing the two at the South Carolina phone, according to the affidavit.

South Carolina police, who were given a description of Cray’s car, stopped it July 16 and arrested him. The girl was also in the car and was returned to Maine.

She later told police she had been having a sexual relationship with Cray for about five months in both Maine and South Carolina.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.