ROCKLAND — A 39-year-old man was expected to be released from jail Wednesday after a plea agreement that includes a conviction for beating and trying to strangle a woman in a Rockport hotel room last year.

The judge who accepted the pleas and sentence agreement expressed concern about the deal, but acknowledged the challenge facing the prosecution.

Under the agreement, Kelcey Hart was convicted of aggravated assault against the woman, five counts of felony violating a condition of release for contacting her by phone after his arrest, and misdemeanor assault against another inmate at the jail. Hart, who has already served nearly nine months in jail after being arrested for the offenses last August, was sentenced to time served under the agreement and was scheduled to be released

Kelcey Hart, shown at a court hearing in August, is expected to be released from jail Thursday. He has been in jail for nine months and struck a plea agreement. The Courier-Gazette/Stephen Betts


Hart entered an Alford plea to the most serious charge — aggravated assault — which means he does not admit to committing the crime, but agrees that a jury could find him guilty. He pleaded guilty to the other offenses.

Justice Bruce Mallonee accepted the sentencing agreement reached between the District Attorney’s Office and defense attorney Philip Cohen of Waldoboro. The full sentence for the aggravated assault was five years in jail with all but nine months suspended and three years’ probation. Hart must attend a batterer’s intervention program, undergo psychological counseling and have no contact with the victim.


Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald said there was considerable uncertainty as to whether the victim would come to court and testify. He said the District Attorney’s Office has been unable to find the woman, but had been told she was living in Yonkers, N.Y.

The judge said there are women who are victims of significant assaults who later do not want their attackers prosecuted. He said sometimes these women later end up dead at the hands of the same person.

Mallonee said this case made him very worried and that Cohen got Hart a good deal. He urged Hart to take the batterer’s program seriously.

The maximum potential sentence for the original charge of Class A elevated aggravated assault was 30 years in prison.

The assault occurred Aug. 21, 2017, in a hotel room at the Samoset Resort, where Hart had worked for a month as the fitness center director. He was fired upon his arrest.

According to an affidavit filed in court by Knox County Sheriff’s Office Detective Dwight Burtis, the assault occurred in a room at the hotel where Hart was staying that night. Hart and the victim had gone to the room after spending the evening at a Rockland tavern.


The detective interviewed the woman at Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport Aug. 21 and reported that her face was so swollen that she could hardly open her eyes. He said there was blood throughout the whites of her eyes.

There were also bruises and swelling to her chin, her neck and her arms.

Hart used the strap of the woman’s pocketbook to try to strangle her.

The woman could not recall fully what had happened, according to the police report, but remembered having a difficult time breathing, and being in pain on the floor. Police recovered blood samples, clumps of hair and the purse strap as part of their investigation at the hotel room.

Hart had convictions in 1999 for criminal trespass, a disorderly conduct that had been pleaded down from an assault in 2002, and a violation of probation in 2003, the prosecution said last year upon his arrest.

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