A former state trooper convicted last year of eight counts of unlawful sexual contact and four counts of assault is arguing that jurors should not have been told that he had watched erotic images on both his home and work computers because it was unrelated to the charges.

Steven Peterson, an attorney representing Gregory Vrooman, 47, of Nobleboro, made the arguments Tuesday before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in Portland.

“I don’t think those images added anything to the state’s case,” Peterson told the justices. “This was a (witness) credibility case.”

Vrooman was tried on the charges in Lincoln County Superior Court last year, and his sentence — five years in prison with all but 21 months suspended — was put on hold pending a ruling by the Law Court. Vrooman remains free on bail but did not attend the arguments, Peterson said afterward.

Peterson said the trial judge, Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm, allowed testimony about the images but none were shown to the jury. Peterson had sought to keep even the mention of the images out of the trial.

He said the images of “sexually provocative actions by young girls — nothing illegal” distracted jurors from appropriately assessing the credibility of the alleged victim of the sexual contact, a 12-year-old girl.

One of the justices asked the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Deborah Cashman, “Don’t you think there’s a profound danger of unfair prejudice?”

Cashman disagreed.

“His state of mind was very important to the state’s case,” Cashman said. She said it supported the state’s contention that the sexual contact was “intentional or knowing.”

The accusations against Vrooman were initially made in November 2010, when Vrooman was the family breadwinner “earning in excess of $80,000 a year,” Peterson said. Vrooman had been with the Maine State Police for 24 years prior to his arrest. Peterson also said there was some indication that the mother of the girl planned to sue Vrooman.

Peterson told the justices that accidental touching of the girl’s breasts occurred “two or three times if I remember (Vrooman’s) testimony correctly,” and were unrelated to the viewing of erotic images.

Vrooman, who testified in his own defense at trial, said the touching was a mistake.

Peterson also challenged the validity of an affidavit for a search warrant in the case which was prepared and signed by one officer, but had a different officer’s name typed under the signature line.

Chief Justice Leigh Saufley asked whether Peterson believed the typographical error should invalidate the entire affidavit, and Peterson said it should.

The state supreme court generally issues rulings months after arguments are held.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
[email protected]

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