A Maryland man is free to return to his home state after negotiating a plea agreement with prosecutors in Franklin County in connection with a sexual abuse charge involving a teenage girl.

Michael Massey, 32, through his lawyer, Walter Hanstein of Farmington, entered an Alford plea in court Monday, meaning that he does not admit to the crimes but concedes that the prosecution could likely prove the charges if the case went to trial, according to Assistant District Attorney Josh Robbins.

Massey was indicted by a Franklin County grand jury on charges of Class C sexually abusing a minor and Class D furnishing liquor to a minor. Maine State Police charged him after he reportedly gave alcohol to a girl under the age of 16 and sexually assaulted her in Weld in 2012.

“An Alford plea is a plea in which he enters a guilty plea, but still contests the evidence in the case,” Robbins said. “He acknowledges that … he could or would be found guilty.”

In exchange for the plea agreement, Massey was given a deferred disposition, meaning that if he stays out of trouble and commits no new crimes for one year, he can return to the Farmington court and withdraw the plea. He can then plead guilty to a lesser charge of simple assault and pay a $300 fine to resolve the case.

“We were prepared to go to trial, but there, of course, are facts and circumstances that are brought out at trial by the defense or could have been brought out that may have impacted the state’s ability to ultimately prove beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements,” Robbins said.

Robbins said both parties in the case faced a certain amount of risk if the charges had gone to trial, so the agreement was reached. He said he never doubted the statements made by the alleged victim, who was 14 years old at the time, but added there “was a real question” as to whether or not the state could have proven its case. The plea also keeps the alleged victim, now 17, from having to testify in court.

Hanstein said the Alford plea makes the most sense for his client. He said some of the evidence was inconsistent with the original charges.

Had Massey been convicted of the felony charge, he would have faced five years in prison and would have had to register as a sex offender.

“I am happy with the result for Mr. Massey,” Hanstein said Tuesday. “He has a very good job, he’s got a lovely wife and one young child and another child on the way, and it lets him put his future less in peril in a case that he has from day one adamantly denied any wrongdoing in.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow


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