SKOWHEGAN — A repeat sex offender from Bingham faces up to five years in prison after he was convicted in a jury trail this week on a felony charge of unlawful sexual contact.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said the charge against Christopher C. Cates, 42, was elevated to a class C felony because of his lengthy history of sex offenses dating back two decades. Cates is a lifetime registrant on the Maine Sex Offender Registry for previous convictions.

A class C felony is punishable by up to five years in the state prison and a $5,000 fine.

Maloney said Cates was arrested immediately Tuesday after the two-day trial that began Monday in Somerset County Superior Court.

“He is being held without bail; his bail was immediately revoked. We don’t see that happen that often,” Maloney said. “I very much appreciate that.”

The charge of unlawful sexual contact came after Cates improperly touched a 60-year-old woman in Smithfield on May 6, 2016, according to court documents. The woman told police on May 9, 2016, that Cates assaulted her while visiting her property under the pretense of looking at a car she was trying to sell.


The jury found that Cates told the woman she had a tick on her leg, and when she panicked and asked him to remove it, he touched her between her legs, according to an affidavit filed in Skowhegan District Court by Detective Jeremy Leal, of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office. When the woman shouted at him, telling him he was “sick,” Cates reportedly said he was sorry and told the woman he thought she was “hot.”

The vehicle was for sale on the side of the road in a rural area, and the assault took place outside the 60-year-old woman’s residence. It took place during the afternoon.

Police said when they first went to Cates’ house on Nichols Hill Road in Bingham to arrest him, 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, 2016, when he appeared in court on a charge of operating after suspension. He was freed on bail on that charge. Cates was free on conditions of release at the time for an unrelated charge.

He was indicted by a Somerset County grand jury in June last year on the new charge, which went to the jury this week.

Cates was a three-time convicted sex offender in 2011 when he was sentenced to 90 days in jail for two counts of indecent conduct after exposing himself to a woman in downtown Skowhegan and attempting to do the same thing to two teenage girls, according to Morning Sentinel archives.

He was convicted in December 1996 in an Augusta court of unlawful sexual contact, as well as in Waterville and Augusta courts in 2000 and 2004, according to court documents. Charges were also brought against him in Franklin County in 2008, when he was charged with unlawfully touching two girls while performing massages and exposing himself to a female jail guard. Those charges are not considered sex offenses and did not qualify for the registry.


A Somerset County sheriff’s detective described Cates in a court affidavit as someone who has assaulted women repeatedly and randomly, “whether at a private location or place of business.”

A representative from the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault said last June that sexual violence crimes are among the most underreported, and it’s not unusual for communities to have repeat offenders whom the public is not aware of.

“We have many offenders in our community that we don’t know about,” Destie Hohman Sprague, associate director of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, told a reporter in June 2016. “That’s not meant as a scare tactic. It’s just an acknowledgment of how ineffective our infrastructure still is in understanding and responding to sexual violence of all kinds.”

Only 34 percent of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement nationally in 2014, according to the coalition.

While there isn’t one explanation for why a sex offender continues to re-offend, Hohman Sprague said in general mental illness does not play a role in the majority of sexual assaults.

“Sexual violence is generally about power, exerting power and believing you’re entitled to other people’s bodies and boundaries,” she said.


Cates is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


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