AUGUSTA — Eric Bard, accused of sexually abusing a 4-year-old girl and recording it while babysitting her in her mother’s Augusta home, will go to trial at the end of the month.

A jury of 11 women and four men was selected Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court from an initial pool of about 120 jurors who filled out an extensive questionnaire. As a result of their responses, more than half the people were excluded from being selected for Bard’s jury. The trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Defense attorneys had sought in vain to have the trial moved to a different county because of extensive pretrial publicity.

Bard, now 24, was arrested at his mother’s Sidney home in late July 2012 on an indictment charging him with 11 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor under 12, seven counts of gross sexual assault, two counts of unlawful sexual contact and one count of assault, all between December 2011 and April 2012.

Most of the charges carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

Bard was not shackled as walked into the courtroom Friday afternoon, wearing an olive green polo shirt with narrow white stripes and blue jeans, with his bushy brown hair tied at the back of his head. He has a mustache and beard. At pretrial hearings over the past months, Bard, 4-foot-11, has been in a jail uniform and shackled.

He slowly rocked forward and backward while seated at a table next to one of his defense attorneys, Ronald Bourget. Bard kept his hands clasped on his lap and his eyelids down. Bard halted the rocking only when he shifted position in the leather, cushioned armchair. He appeared to take no interest in the process or in the potential jurors during the two-hour session Friday.

Justice Donald Marden, surrounded by attorneys, court clerks and a court reporter questioned a number of jurors individually at the side of the bench about their questionnaire responses.

Over a series of hearings on pretrial motions and repeated arguments by defense attorneys, Marden ruled that Bard was competent to stand trial on the charges. Bard was evaluated by a number of forensic psychologists, some of whom said he appeared to exaggerate his mental deficiencies during testing at Riverview Psychiatric Center, the state’s forensic hospital.

Marden said the charges and the court proceedings could be explained by defense attorneys to Bard in terms he could understand and the trial could take place in one-hour increments if needed to accommodate the defendant.

Police say they were led to Bard’s home in June 2012 after receiving a complaint about a Craigslist ad in which a person sought children to bathe and babysit.

Police said Bard admitted viewing child pornography and they said a forensic search of his computer storage devices resulted in their finding a video of him sexually assaulting the child.

On July 30, an attorney for Bard argued that some of the items seized from Bard’s home should be thrown out. It was unclear on Friday what the ruling was on that issue.

In June, Marden issued a gag order forbidding attorneys and court personnel from talking about the case to the media except for general information and schedules. He said it was to prevent tainting the jury pool.

On Friday, Marden warned the jurors to avoid contact with people involved in the case and told to avoid media reports and doing any independent research on it on the internet.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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