AUGUSTA — An Augusta man imprisoned 41 months on sexual assault charges has had his convictions tossed out by a judge and is now free.

Jonathan M. Carey, 39, was released from prison on unsecured bail as a result of an order by Justice Nancy Mills vacating his convictions for unlawful sexual contact and unlawful sexual touching. Mills found that Carey wasn’t represented well enough by his attorney during the trial resulting in the convictions.

According to the bail bond filed in the case in the Capital Judicial Center, Carey still faces those two charges, which allegedly occurred in July 2008 in Augusta while a 13-year-old girl was sleeping with two other girls in the same bed, according to testimony at trial.

“The case is still pending; it’s the conviction that was vacated,” District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Wednesday. “Justice Mills found that the defense attorney did not do an adequate job representing her client, and thus vacated the conviction.”

Maloney said she is reviewing the judge’s opinion to see whether to appeal that to the law court and whether to go forward with a new trial.

The alleged victim died in a car accident last year, but Maloney said that would not prevent a new trial since the transcript of her prior testimony could be read.

The convictions against Carey came after a third jury trial. Two previous trials — in July 2010 and September 2011 — ended in mis-trials. Two other charges of unlawful sexual contact were dismissed prior to the trial.

Carey had been sentenced by Mills in November 2012 to four years in prison to be followed by four years of probation, but he had been behind bars since the jury convicted him in March 2012.

Carey had maintained he was innocent of the charges, refusing to accept a plea bargain that called for him to plead guilty to unlawful sexual touching charge and be sentenced to serve an initial 30 days of a one-year sentence, with the remainder suspended.

The 2012 convictions were vacated by Mills as a result of a post-conviction review process in which attorney Robert Sandy represented Carey and raised a number of issues regarding the case, including the actions by defense attorney Lisa Whittier, who represented Carey at all three trials. Whittier on Wednesday would not comment on the judge’s action.

“This was a challenging case to handle and involved difficult issues of law,” Mills wrote in the 17-page order. “Events were unanticipated and, as trial counsel testified, ‘all happened so fast,’ which presented obstacles arduous to maneuver.”

According to the docket record, a copy of the judge’s order was sent Friday to the Bolduc Correctional Center in Warren, which is where Carey was imprisoned, and Carey was brought to the Capital Judicial Center on Monday and later released from the Kennebec County jail in Augusta.

Carey’s next court date is set in Augusta in October. Sandy said Carey is staying in the greater Augusta area.

“The court accepted our argument that there should have been an objection to the second mistrial,” Sandy said. He also said there were other issues such as whether defense witnesses should have been called and some questionable behavior on the part of the prosecutor.

“Mr. Carey has always maintained that he is innocent of these charges,” Sandy said. “It is reassuring to know that our courts will carefully review the circumstances of a criminal conviction and take appropriate action when it appears that a mistake has been made.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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