An Orland man remained in the Hancock County Jail on Monday after his initial court appearance on a charge of gross sexual assault on an intellectually disabled woman.

The assault occurred in February, according to Hancock County District Attorney Matt Foster. The suspect, Van Stevens, was driving a bus taking the woman and other intellectually disabled women to Ellsworth, but after he dropped off the others, he allegedly drove the woman to a parking lot in Stonington, where he assaulted her.

The incident wasn’t reported for almost two weeks. According to Foster, that’s when Stevens showed up at the woman’s house, where he told her mother that he was there to pick up her daughter for a trip the two planned to take. The mother turned him away and spoke to her daughter, who told her about the alleged assault.

Stevens, who told investigators the contact was consensual, Foster said, is being held on two charges: Class A gross sexual assault (compulsion) and Class C gross sexual assault. The second charge is because Stevens was driving a bus under a contract with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

His bail has been set at $5,000 cash or $20,000 surety and he has been ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim and not be a driver of public transportation.

The case illustrates some of the difficulties that arise in dealing with alleged sexual assaults on those with disabilities, Foster said.

He said perpetrators will often convince victims that they will be blamed if they report the assault. Foster said he’s not sure if that happened in this case, but the woman didn’t report the alleged assault until her mother questioned her about the man who came to their door and what had transpired in February.

“She was afraid she would get in trouble,” Foster said. “This is such a violation of public trust.”

The case was investigated by the Maine State Police. The trooper who investigated did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

A recent investigation by National Public Radio said there is an “epidemic” of sexual assaults on people with intellectual disabilities. Federal statistics suggest that the rate of sexual assaults on the intellectually disabled is seven times higher than sexual assaults on those without disabilities.

 

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