AUGUSTA — Arlene M. Edson, who is suing the state over being pepper-sprayed at the state psychiatric hospital, was sentenced Tuesday to four years in prison for a series of assaults on workers at that hospital.

Edson, 32, formerly of Biddeford, has been at Riverview Psychiatric Center since 2011, after she was found not criminally responsible for arson and assault.

On Tuesday at the Capital Judicial Center, Edson pleaded guilty to four charges of assault involving four victims, all at Riverview, from July to November 2016. In one of those instances, Edson was accused of hitting a woman repeatedly in the head. Edson also pleaded guilty to violating a condition of bail.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Kate Marshall, previously had sought to have Edson held without bail in a correctional facility.

In her request to the court, she wrote, “The past and pending assaultive behavior is often unprovoked and initiated against staff persons who are caught in vulnerable positions.”

That request was granted Nov. 28, 2016, and Edson indicated on court documents she was being held at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.

Before Tuesday’s hearing, Edson already had eight prior assault convictions.

Riverview, the 92-bed psychiatric hospital that replaced the Augusta Mental Health Institute, has had a series of problems over the past years, including a number of assaults by patients on nurses and mental health workers. Many of the patients were prosecuted criminally and, like Edson, now are serving time in prison.

Edson is suing the hospital, the commissioner of the state Department of Health and Human Services and people who were employed at the hospital in December 2013 when she was pepper-sprayed while naked and left without treatment for hours.

The lawsuit, currently set for trial in July 2017 in U.S. District Court in Bangor, charges use of excessive force, unreasonable bodily restraint, failure to intervene and failure to train, among other counts, including violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. She is seeking compensation for her injuries and damages.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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