AUGUSTA — A New Hampshire man will spend 18 years in prison for sexual assaults on two young children that occurred in Oakland.

Stephen R. Smith, 37, formerly of Oakland, pleaded guilty Monday at the Capital Judicial Center to three counts of unlawful sexual contact with children under age 12, two counts of visual sexual aggression against a child and one count of sexual misconduct with a child, all of which occurred Dec. 1, 2014, and March 11, 2015.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Donald Alexander sentenced Smith to an underlying 30-year sentence, ordering him to serve an initial 18 years behind bars with the remaining 12 years suspended, and then be placed on probation for 18 years.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Kristin Murray-James, told the judge that Smith repeatedly sexually abused the girl and boy, including bathing and masturbating in front of them between Dec. 1, 2014, and March 31, 2015, and showed them child pornography.

Smith’s defense attorney, Stephen Bourget, told the judge that Smith said he would not have done so had he not received permission from their mother. The children’s mother, Sarah Conway, 27, also of Canaan, New Hampshire, is free on bail after being indicted on two counts each of visual sexual aggression against a child and endangering the welfare of a child. She pleaded not guilty. Conditions of bail prohibit her from having contact with her two children named as the victims and limit her contact with an infant. Conway, whose next court hearing is Sept. 7, is represented by attorney Sherry Tash.

Bourget also told the judge that a more appropriate sentence for Smith would be a 20-year sentence, with an initial 10 years to serve, and 10 years’ probation.

Alexander rejected that and instead imposed the longer sentence recommended by the state, saying that the maximum penalties for all the convictions added up to 85 years and the state was asking for less than half that time.

The investigation began in Canaan, New Hampshire, after the children’s grandmother received information saying the children were victims of unlawful sexual acts being committed by Smith and the children’s mother. The abuse apparently stopped when the four moved to New Hampshire. Sgt. Ryan Porter of the Canaan, New Hampshire, police department was in the Augusta courtroom Monday to watch the hearing and said he was not aware of any charges pending against Smith there.

Both Conway and Smith were interviewed separately by police. According to an arrest affidavit by Oakland Police Department Detective Rick Stubbert, Smith admitted the offenses when confronted by Porter. The affidavit also says Conway told Porter that Smith was her ex-fiance and that they used to watch child pornography together in their Oakland apartments. According to Porter, Smith told Conway he had sexually abused his own children and talked her into sexually abusing her children. The affidavit says, “Sarah thought she did this because she liked Stephen so much and she didn’t know how to say no.”

Smith has been in jail since his arrest in November 2015, and both he and Conway pleaded not guilty when they were arraigned in February 2016.

The children’s grandmother wrote a letter to the judge which was read aloud by Murray-James.

The grandmother said she told the girl about what would be happening in the courtroom and asked what she wanted the judge to know. The girl, now 6, told her, “I’m mad, I’m mad, I’m super-duper mad.” The girl also said everyone would know why.

The grandmother also said, “The things (the girl) knows are not things a 6-year-old should ever know.” The grandmother also said both the girl and boy, who was about 3 when the abuse occurred, are attending weekly counseling, which was helping them, but it was likely they would need it for the rest of their lives. She also said they had to constantly monitor the children’s behavior and interactions with others, telling them when it was appropriate to hug someone and when it was not.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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