A convicted sex offender from Bingham with multiple convictions stretching over two decades has been arrested and released on bail twice in a week on unlawful sexual contact charges in two separate cases.

Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said Friday he is concerned that Christopher Carl Cates, 41, is not in jail and that he might have more victims who have not come forward.

Cates pleaded not guilty last week to charges of unlawful sexual contact and violating conditions of release in connection with a case in Smithfield in which he allegedly touched a woman’s vagina while looking at a car she had for sale.

A Norridgewock woman who saw his picture in the media called police after Cates’ arrest last week and reported that he had assaulted her in August, Lancaster said. Cates was arrested Thursday on charges of unlawful sexual contact and assault related to that case, but he was released on bail Friday.

“I am extremely frustrated and concerned about public safety given that we cannot keep Cates incarcerated,” Lancaster said.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Friday the bail for Cates for both recent cases — $5,000 cash or $50,000 surety — was high for a misdemeanor, but could not say whether it might have been different had the charges been elevated.

Cates is a lifetime registrant of the Maine Sex Offender Registry and has at least three convictions for unlawful sexual contact, according to Morning Sentinel archives. A complete criminal history was not available Friday, but Lancaster said in a news release that Cates has a “history of multiple sex offense convictions.”

Sentinel archives show Cates has been convicted of such offenses as unlawful sexual contact in 1996 and 2004, unlawfully touching two girls while performing massages and exposing himself to a female jail guard in Franklin County in 2008, exposing himself to two women on the street in Skowhegan in 2011, and indecent contact and prohibited contact with a person younger than 14, both in 2014.

A charge of unlawful sexual contact can be elevated one class if a defendant has at least two convictions for similar crimes, but despite his criminal history, both of the recent charges against Cates are misdemeanor Class D crimes. Under state law, Class A, B and C crimes are felonies, Class D and E are misdemeanors, usually punishable by less than a year in a county jail and a fines not higher than $2,000.

Maloney said she did not know the full extent of Cates’ criminal history and could not say whether the charges against him will be elevated.

Maloney said her office had requested that he be held without bail on last week’s charges, given that the alleged new criminal conduct took place while Cates has a deferred disposition for an operating after suspension charge.

The same bail was set Thursday after Cates was arrested on warrants for unlawful sexual contact and assault.

Unlawful sexual contact under Maine law is intentionally subjecting another person to sexual touching, either directly or through clothing.

Last month, Cates contacted a 60-year-old woman in Smithfield who had advertised she was selling a vehicle, according to a police affidavit filed in the case in Skowhegan District Court.

The woman said that while outside her home looking at the vehicle, Cates told her she had a tick on her leg. When she panicked and asked him to remove it, he allegedly touched her vagina, the affidavit said.

Lancaster would not provide details Friday of the alleged assault in Norridgewock that spurred Thursday’s charges, but said it was similar to the incident in Smithfield.

He said the 48-year-old woman in Norridgewock didn’t know Cates and had not been able to identify him for police, but recognized him after she saw his photo in the news following his arrest last week.

His next scheduled appearance in the Smithfield case is June 29, and he’s scheduled to be arraigned in the Norridgewock case July.

Lancaster asked that anyone with information about Cates contact Detective Jeremy Leal at 207-858-9531.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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