AUGUSTA — A sentencing hearing is unlikely before spring for Eric L. Bard, 25, of Sidney, who pleaded guilty in August to raping a 4-year-old girl and recording it on his cellphone.

Bard had entered pleas of guilty to multiple counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and gross sexual assault on the condition that pretrial rulings by Justice Donald Marden are upheld on appeal. The pleas came as a jury waited to hear evidence in the case in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Bard’s attorneys, Ronald Bourget and Gina Yamartino, said the case will go to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court — the appeals court — after sentencing.

The offenses occurred between Dec. 1, 2011, and April 30, 2012, while Bard was babysitting the girl in Augusta. Investigators say he had befriended the child’s mother.

On Monday morning, Bard, his long auburn hair tied back in a ponytail, sat between the attorneys and resumed a continual forward-and-back rocking motion that characterized his previous court appearances.

Marden said he had received a defense motion to continue the sentencing and a motion to allow a psychosexual evaluator for the defense to view some of the evidence.

He granted those motions, indicating the delay could be longer than the eight weeks requested by Yamartino because of scheduling concerns.

Assistant Attorney General Paul Rucha objected to the delay, saying Bard was occupying a bed in a crowded county jail and that the state’s evaluator, forensic psychologist Andrew Wisch, had issued his report in November.

Marden also spoke directly to Bard, asking if he understood what was happening.

Bard responded several times by saying “yeah.” He also said he understood that he would remain at the Kennebec County jail for several more months.

“I want the continuance,” Bard said.

His attorneys had previously sought to have him found incompetent to stand trial, saying he was too intellectually compromised.

Bard had previously pleaded not criminally responsible to the 21-count indictment.

The investigation began after a woman told police she had seen an ad on Craigslist in which someone indicated he was interested in giving children baths.

The ad was traced to Bard’s address, and he told police he was interested in child pornography, according to an affidavit filed in court by Maine State Police Detective Christopher Tremblay.

Police said a forensic examination of Bard’s computers and cellphone storage devices uncovered photographs and videos of Bard sexually assaulting the child on different dates during that 18-month period.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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