AUGUSTA — A former Oakland woman went on trial Tuesday for the second time on a charge that she committed gross sexual assault on a 3-year-old boy.

Sarah B. Conway, 28, now of Canaan, New Hampshire, was tried in the same courtroom at the Capital Judicial Center earlier this year. A previous jury on Jan. 19, 2017, cleared Conway of two counts of unlawful sexual contact but deadlocked on the charge of gross sexual assault of a 3-year-old boy, the most serious charge. A conviction on that charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

The trial continues Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. with attorneys giving closing arguments.

Conway remains free on bail with conditions prohibiting her from contact with children under 16, except for supervised contact once a month with a toddler daughter.

The re-trial began Tuesday with Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh telling jurors they would hear testimony about two adults — Conway and her then-boyfriend, Stephen R. Smith — sexually assaulting the boy more than two years ago in Oakland. Cavanagh said Smith told her he liked child pornography and tried to get her interested in it as well. He also said that he expected her to testify that Smith forced her into the sexual act.

Defense attorney Sherry Tash told jurors it’s going to be a “he-said, she said” case and comes down to the credibility of witnesses. “Don’t just listen to what happened, but why it happened,” Tash told jurors.

Tash said the investigation began with Conway going to the police in Canaan, New Hampshire, after she and Smith moved there to live with her family.

Fifteen people sat in the public area listening to the attorneys’ opening statements.

Smith, 38, was the first witness Tuesday and in the previous trial as well. He testified that he and his then-girlfriend, Conway, sexually assaulted the boy after removing the boy’s diaper.

Smith is serving the initial 18-year unsuspended portion of a 30-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to three counts of unlawful sexual contact, and two counts of visual sexual aggression against a child and one count of sexual misconduct with a child under 12. He is serving his sentence at the Maine State Prison in Warren and was brought to the courthouse Tuesday morning by deputies. He took the witness stand wearing a turquoise, long-sleeved shirt with package folds still evident, over jeans.

He told the jury of eight men and five women the couple connected through an online dating site, and then met for the first time at his Oakland apartment, where they had sex and she stayed the night.

“I told her that I had an interest in younger kids,” he testified, and that he liked child pornography. “I didn’t watch it much with her because she didn’t have one opinion or another about it.”

When asked about the incident involving the young boy, which allegedly occurred between Dec. 1, 2014, and March 31, 2015, he said, “We, uh, we fondled him.”

Then he provided more graphic details in response to Cavanaugh’s questioning.

“Did she tell you she didn’t want to participate?” Cavanaugh asked.

“No, I never forced her,” Smith testified.

Conway broke off their engagement when they were in New Hampshire, and Smith stayed on her family’s property, living in a tent behind the house.

Smith said Tuesday he agreed to testify against Conway “because someone like that shouldn’t be around their kids, basically,” a remark Justice Donald Marden ordered jurors to disregard.

Under questioning by Tash, Smith said he had a bad memory and that he did not force Conway to sexually assault the boy, who never woke up during it.

“If she felt force, I was unaware of it,” he said.

Tash gave him a transcript of his prior testimony, in which he said Conway did not watch child pornography together with him.

“She told you she didn’t like it,” Tash said.

“I don’t remember that, but OK,” Smith agreed.

Tash also asked if Smith was upset about Conway’s going to the police. “Of course,” Smith said.

Smith testified that he touched Conway’s head to get her to do what he wanted. “It was more of a nudge than anything,” he said.

Conway took the stand in her own defense Tuesday afternoon, saying Smith compelled her to commit the assault.

In recorded interviews with Canaan, New Hampshire, police Sgt. Ryan Porter, which were played for the jury, Conway said Smith threatened her if she reported him. “He said he would make it look like I was 100 percent willingly involved.” She said Smith told her, “If you ever tell anyone, you’ll never see your kids again.”

She said she cried after the assault and that she went to the police after her family learned about Smith assaulting children.

“I just want people to understand that I would never choose to do anything,” Conway said.

Prior to the start of the January trial, Conway pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child under 16, both of which occurred Dec. 1, 2014, and March 31, 2015, in Oakland. She was acquitted by the judge in that trial of two counts of visual sexual aggression, again with the same dates and place.

One juror, Debra Lamontagne, of Oakland, spoke immediately after the January trial concluded, saying jurors did not believe that Conway had committed the unlawful sexual contact offenses for her own sexual gratification — one of the elements needed to find someone guilty of that charge.

However, Lamontagne also said 11 of 12 jurors voted to find Conway guilty of the gross sexual assault charge. The holdout, a woman, refused to budge.

“We are going to re-try that case,” District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said after the conclusion of the January trial. “We are alleging that she is the person that did the gross sexual assault action, not that she was an observer.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

Comments are not available on this story.