A repeat sex offender from Bingham whose release on bail last month alarmed the Somerset County sheriff has been indicted by a grand jury on felony sex charges that allegedly occurred in Smithfield in May and in Skowhegan in August.

Christopher Cates, 41, is charged by the Somerset County grand jury with intentionally subjecting a woman who had not expressed or implied her acquiesence to sexual contact, according to the indictment. The two charges of unlawful sexual contact are Class C felonies, each punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

An indictment isn’t an indication of guilt, but a determination by the grand jury that there’s enough evidence to proceed with a trial.

Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said after Cates was arrested for a second time in two weeks earlier this month that he was concerned Cates was free on bail because of his history. Chief Deputy James Ross of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department said Monday police have not had a problem with Cates since his release on bail several weeks ago.

Cates has a history of sex crime convictions going back two decades and is a registered sex offender.

The unlawful sexual contact charges were originally misdemeanors, but were elevated to felonies the week after Cates’ arrest. Somerset County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Cates’ criminal history of sexual contact charges warranted a more serious charge.

Cates also was indicted in June on misdemeanor charges of violating conditions of release on a previous charge and simple assault.

Cates was arrested May 25 after a Smithfield woman told police on May 9 that Cates assaulted her while visiting her property under the pretense of looking at a car she was trying to sell.

He allegedly told her she had a tick on her leg, she told police, and when she panicked and asked him to remove it, he allegedly touched her crotch, according to an affidavit filed in Skowhegan District Court by Somerset County Sheriff’s Detective Jeremy Leal.

Police said when they first went to Cates’ house to arrest him after that report, Cates’ father stalled a sheriff’s deputy at the front door of their house while his son escaped on foot. Cates was arrested May 25 when he appeared in court on a charge of operating after suspension. He was freed on bail May 25 on that charge.

A Norridgewock woman who saw Cates’ photo in the media after his May 25 arrest called police and said she recognized him as a man who had assaulted her in a similar way in August. He was arrested June 2 on charges of unlawful sexual contact and assault related to that case and was released on bail June 3.

According to the indictment, Cates was convicted of unlawful sexual contact on Dec. 31, 1996, in Augusta District Court. He also was convicted of the same crime May 31, 2000, in Waterville District Court. He again was convicted of unlawful sexual contact on Dec. 16, 2003, in the Augusta court, unlawful sexual touching Aug. 7, 2008, in Farmington Superior Court and on a charge of prohibited contact with a person under 14 years of age Sept. 17, 2014, in Somerset District Court.

Cates is out on $5,000 cash or $50,000 property bail.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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