AUGUSTA — Linda Alderson stood in the courtroom Monday morning and said she forgave Mark Halle, the man who sexually assaulted her last year in her own bedroom in Waterville.

Alderson, a petite woman, spoke without prepared notes; her voice broke once or twice while she addressed the judge, and she said later that she had spoken about her ordeal at three church services, so many people in the community already knew she was the 73-year-old woman attacked in February 2016.

“I just want him to know that what he did to me did not define me,” Alderson said, adding that he had threatened to kill her and her family if she reported it.

“I want him to know that I’ve forgiven him, but I won’t forget anything he did,” the woman told the judge. “I feel sorry for him because he’s so young and he has given up a whole chunk of his life — for what? He thought I had money.”

Alderson’s harrowing victim statement came the same day that Halle, 33, was sentenced to 27 years behind bars followed by special supervised release tailored for sex offenders. Halle, a transient living in Waterville at the time, pleaded guilty to charges of gross sexual assault, burglary and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, a pellet gun.

Justice William Stokes, in imposing the sentence, described the crime as “sexual torture.”

It was the third time in a less than a year that Halle entered guilty pleas to the Feb. 7, 2016, offenses that horrified neighbors and resulted in the woman, Alderson, now 74, completing a training course to help other victims of sexual assault.

Alderson agreed Monday to have her name and photograph published, and her statement recorded. It is the newspaper’s policy not to identify victims of sexual assault without their permission.

On Monday in a courtroom at the Capital Judicial Center, two dozen people surrounded Alderson with their support, including her son and daughter-in law and other relatives, her minister, and close friends as Halle again entered guilty pleas. She said it was all that support that allowed her to recover.

Despite Halle having placed a pillowcase over her head, Alderson had recognized him as the man who two days earlier had come to her door and asked to shovel the snow from her deck. She paid him the $10 he asked to do that and to clear her car.

On Monday Halle, who has been held in lieu of $500,000 bail since he was arrested hours after the assault, was shackled as he stood next to his attorney, Pamela Ames, when he was initially queried by Stokes about his understanding of the charges and consequences.

Stokes later told Alderson he admired her strength of character and strength of faith.

“You are not a victim, Ms. Alderson,” Stokes said. “You are as strong a woman as I’ve ever met.”

The prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh, asked the judge to impose a 30-year prison term followed by the 10 years of supervised release, the maximum sentence available and suggested a 10-year suspended sentence with probation for the burglary offense in order to provide Halle with the most supervision.

Ames recommended 18 years in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, and additional probation to follow while sentences for burglary and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon were suspended. She calculated that would keep him under supervision for 43 years.

“A 30-year sentence, you might as well just throw him away,” Ames said. “That’s just basically the rest of his life.”

Halle spoke briefly, saying, “I would like to apologize for what I’ve done. I’m so sorry. I really don’t know what I was thinking that night, and that’s definitely not the person that I am.”

He asked the judge “for a little bit of mercy, please.”

Ames described Halle’s “terrible childhood, limited education — eighth grade,” and added, “He can’t get even minimum wage jobs.” She also said he never had dual diagnosis counseling for his issues with substance abuse and mental illness.

In imposing sentence, Stokes said the conduct the night of the offense “was certainly close to the worst conceivable way of violating a person’s dignity, a person’s sanctity of their home, their personal dignity.”

Stokes added, “It’s very difficult for me to grasp that Mr. Halle could be so drunk that he does not remember what he did to Ms. Alderson after being able to remove the air conditioner and enter her dwelling, presumably looking for her purse.”

Stokes noted that Mother’s Day was celebrated on Sunday.

“The idea that a mother of age 73 would suffer that indignity and that sexual cruelty and torture is almost hard for me to grasp,” Stokes said in ranking the crime as deserving a sentence near the maximum 30 years available. “It’s almost unspeakable.”

Stokes said there were some mitigating circumstances, including the fact that Halle had no criminal record.

“It is absolutely baffling to me. I cannot explain it, how Mr. Halle can go from no criminal record to conduct that, as I said is, virtually unspeakable in the cruelty that he displayed.”

Stokes said Halle got “a raw deal” for his upbringing and that his mental health issues and his substance played a major role.

However, Stokes added, “It was not lost on me that while there was discussion about how he could not afford his medications or his copays, he was drinking 12 beers a day.”

In September 2016, a different judge rejected a plea agreement for Halle, saying 20 years in prison might not be long enough to protect the public.

In late January 2017, Halle withdrew his guilty pleas to charges of gross sexual assault, burglary and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, and the cases was returned to the trial docket. He did so after Justice Michaela Murphy indicated her intent to sentence Halle to 30 years, rather than the 20-year cap he had previously agreed to under a plea deal.

On Monday, Stokes noted that Halle entered the guilty pleas without any agreement between attorneys about the number of years he would serve in prison. Halle also was ordered to register as a lifetime offender under the state’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Stokes told him the maximum penalty available was 30 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release which carried a penalty of 10 years in prison if violated.

In exchange for the pleas, an additional count of gross sexual assault, plus aggravated assault and terrorizing with a dangerous weapon, all of which allegedly occurred Feb. 7, 2016, in Waterville, were dismissed.

After the sentencing, District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, who watched the hearing with the victim and her family, said, “I think that Justice Stokes said it perfectly. It was sexual torture and cruelty, and he gave a sentence that will protect the community.”

Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey was in the courtroom as well, and was thanked by Alderson for his support.

“I was hoping he’d get all 30 years,” Massey said, “but I understand the judge’s decision. It was a horrific crime, and there were not many mitigating circumstances.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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Twitter: @betadams

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