AUGUSTA — A Waterville man accused of breaking into the home of a 73-year-old woman and raping her will be held in lieu of $500,000 cash bail before his next court appearance, a judge determined Wednesday.

Mark Halle, 32, is charged with gross sexual assault, burglary, aggravated assault, assault and criminal threatening following the Feb. 7 break-in at the woman’s home on Victoria Drive in Waterville.

Halle, shackled and in an orange jail jumpsuit, appeared in the Capital Judicial Center for a Harnish hearing, which determines bail for a person charged with a capital crime, and is next scheduled to appear in court May 3. He didn’t speak during the 15-minute hearing.

“I’m happy it was raised to $500,000,” said the victim, who appeared in court surrounded by family and friends. “Now I can rest in peace.”

Halle, who recently moved to Waterville from Florida and had been staying at his sister’s home, was arrested hours after the assault after police tracked a trail of footprints in the snow outside the woman’s house. He previously was being held in lieu of $225,000 cash bail. His attorney, Pamela Ames, asked Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy that the bail be lowered, given that Halle has no criminal record.

Deputy Kennebec County District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh asked that bail be raised to $500,000, describing the break-in and assault as “the most heinous way a crime could be committed.”

Halle allegedly broke into the woman’s home by removing her air conditioning unit from a window early in the morning of Feb.7. She heard a thump and came to find a stranger in her house wearing a hoodie and pointing a gun at her, Cavanaugh said.

“He sexually assaulted her with the gun and with his body, then forced her into the shower in an attempt to hide the evidence,” Cavanaugh said, adding that Halle had brought rope with him to tie the woman up, though he did not use it.

Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey said in the wake of the attack that it is a good argument for residents to have guns to protect themselves.

“Over the last couple of years, gun control and private gun ownership has been a hot topic,” Massey told the Morning Sentinel last week. “And this was one of those cases — because of the vulnerability of the victim, being 73 years old, living alone, the level of violence and the spontaneous or randomness of the attack — I think makes people realize that there are those folks out there who commit this level of violence on innocent, defenseless victims.”

Cavanaugh’s request for $500,000 cash bail was approved by Murphy, who also approved several conditions of release, should Halle post bail. If he is released, he is not to have contact with the victim; not allowed to possess weapons, drugs or alcohol; is subject to random search and testing; must comply with a curfew of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.; is not allowed on Victoria Drive.

Halle also would be required to participate in the court’s electronic monitoring system should he be released, Murphy said.

Halle is scheduled to appear in court next on May 3, which Murphy said will give both the state’s attorneys and Ames time to review forensic evidence in the case. It is also scheduled to be reviewed by a grand jury.

The victim said she feels safer with the higher bail conditions and that the Waterville community has been supportive of her.

“I’m truly blessed to have the support of my family and friends,” she said outside the courtroom. “The neighborhood has really rallied around me.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

 


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