AUGUSTA — A jury found Jared Jandreau guilty Thursday of 17 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, five counts of unlawful sexual contact and one count of solicitation of gross sexual assault.

Jandreau, 36, was found guilty for getting an Augusta woman, Jessica Cox, 32, to take and send him sexually explicit photographs and a video of a 6-year-old girl, including images which involved Cox having unlawful sexual contact with the girl. He was also found guilty of trying to get her to perform a sexual act on a boy who was less than 14 years old.

Cox pleaded guilty in early June to nearly 20 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and five counts of unlawful sexual contact in connection to the same set of images and is currently serving a five-year prison term. She was compelled to testify in Jandreau’s trial.

Jurors deliberated for about two hours Thursday before finding Jandreau guilty on all counts made against him in the four day trial.

Paul Rucha, an assistant state attorney general who prosecuted the case, said the evidence, especially the texts he said were between Jandreau and Cox, made it clear he had repeatedly asked her to take and send him sexually explicit photographs of the young girl.

He said Cox, in court, was clear that she had created and sent the sexually explicit images because Jandreau had asked her to do so repeatedly. Testimony indicated the pair had met after Jandreau contacted Cox on Facebook, and Rucha alleged he reached out to her because he saw her as someone whom he could take advantage of.

“He chose the vulnerable drug addict because she was pliable,” Rucha said. “Because he could get her to do what he wanted her to do. Jessica Cox is responsible (for committing the crime of taking the images). But the person who preys on that vulnerable person. The person pulling the strings … is just as responsible.”

In his closing arguments, Tim Zerillo, who defended Jandreau with fellow attorney Darrick Banda, said the state had numerous holes in its case, too many, he said, for jurors to find Jandreau guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

He said state computer forensic analysts weren’t able to say how the images of the girl were created or got onto Jandreau’s phone. Zerillo also said the state wasn’t able to say when the images got on Jandreau’s phone, which he said was important because if the photos were sent before his text messages with Cox, which were all sent in August 2017, it would mean they were not sent in response to his requests.

Zerillo also argued the state hadn’t proven the text messages were sent by Jandreau, that he never told Cox what to do with the girl. He said police favored Cox over Jandreau, and gave her a break by not pursuing federal charges of producing child pornography, which could have had a much longer prison sentence. Zerillo also accused Cox, a significant witness for the state, of being a liar with no credibility who initially told investigators she didn’t know if she’d sent sexually explicit images of the girl to Jandreau. Then, he said, while on the witness stand in court, Cox said she was sure she had done so and sure he had requested them.

And, as he and Banda had stressed throughout the trial, both sides agreed Jandreau had never even met the girl in the images.

“There are holes throughout this case,” Zerillo said. “This is a web the state is making. And they have an accomplice liability theory they have to prove on these counts. Why?

“Because Jared Jandreau is not the one doing the act,” he added. “He’s not the one committing the crimes. He never met (the girl).”

Jandreau, formerly of China, was charged with the 17 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and five counts of unlawful sexual contact under Maine’s accomplice liability standards, in which an accomplice in a crime can be charged with the same crime as the primary actor in that crime.

The sexually explicit images of the girl were found by police on Jandreau’s phone when they were examining its contents in an unrelated investigation. None of those images were found in the contents of the text messages between Jandreau and Cox’s phones, but Rucha noted Jandreau mentioned having previously seen apparently explicit photographs which he said the content of the texts made it clear were of the girl. Rucha said there were many other ways the photos could have been sent from Cox to Jandreau.

The one count of solicitation to commit a gross sexual assault against Jandreau is tied to an allegation that a number of times he asked Cox to perform oral sex on a boy, who at the time was less than 14 years old. That act, according to police, did not end up taking place. Testimony indicated that Cox never met the boy, and Jandreau never met the girl who was in the images Cox allegedly sent him.

Banda sought to delay the trial’s start, so the state Supreme Judicial Court could consider his request to not be required to wear a mask. Banda was not vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to the trial and claimed him being required to wear a mask in court could prejudice jurors against him and his client. He said he hadn’t had time to get vaccinated before the trial and having to wear a mask in court might make him look like “a dunce” to the jury.

The state court system requires that people who have not been vaccinated wear masks inside courthouses, though people who have been vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks in court buildings.

Stokes noted the state’s top court denied Banda’s appeal on July 16, prior to the trial’s start, and Banda wore a mask throughout the trial. While none of the 14 members of the jury wore masks — nor did most others in the courtroom for the trial — a few others did, including the court clerk, court reporter and a marshal.

Bail for Jandreau, who had been out on bail since just after his arrest, was increased from $1,000 to $5,000, or $2,500 with a Maine Pretrial Services contract.

Sentencing is set for Sept. 23.

After the verdict Banda argued, unsuccessfully, that the 17 charges of sexual exploitation of a minor and five counts of unlawful sexual contact should be combined into one charge for each offense. He said the criminal act in this case was not possessing the images but was, rather, prompting them to be taken. Stokes ruled against that motion.

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