AUGUSTA — A man found guilty of sexually abusing a young girl in West Gardiner in 2020 was sentenced Monday to four years in prison.

Aaron C. Engroff, 34, of Holden and previously of Augusta, was convicted in January of two counts of unlawful sexual contact, a felony-level offense, and one count of misdemeanor-level unlawful sexual touching, following a three-day trial at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.

Engroff was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison, with all but four years suspended. Upon his release, Engroff faces seven years of probation, with conditions he undergo sex offender counseling, have no contact with the victim or her immediate family members and have no contact with anyone younger than 18, unless he has the consent of the young person’s parent.

The girl, now 13 and living out of state, testified that Engroff’s abuse began when she was 7 years old. She said the abuse changed her life forever, damaging her mental and physical health, leaving her with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and unable to sleep.

Engroff, seated at the defense table and facing the judge’s bench, did not appear to turn to look at the victim or any of her family members, who testified about the impact of his crimes.

The victim’s mother said the girl is smart, caring, talented and funny, but thanks to Engroff, the girl suffers from depression and has suicidal thoughts and anxiety attacks.


The victim’s mother also said the girl has had a difficult time in school and does not do well with men in authority.

The girl’s grandfather said he hopes Engroff uses his time in prison to think about the hurt he has caused the victim’s family. The grandfather also said he hopes Engroff never again has the opportunity to be around small children or young adults.

Engroff’s mother, Fran, spoke on his behalf. She said her son has always been a person who follows the rules. He has morals and has lived honorably, she said. In school, he won citizenship awards for defending other children, received honors or high honors in his classes and never had to be disciplined.

She said Engroff enlisted in the U.S. Army and served 17 years in the National Guard, spending his 21st birthday in Afghanistan. She said her son served the country proudly and with honor, discipline, morals and valor. She also said he has been a great parent to his two sons, whom he loves with all his heart.

Engroff did not speak in court. His lawyer, Matthew Bowe, said his client has no prior criminal record and a stellar military record. Bowe sought a three-year sentence for Engroff, with all but 60 days suspended, and three years of probation.

Shannon Flaherty, an assistant district attorney, sought a 10-year sentence, with all but five years suspended, and 12 years of probation. She said the case involved multiple incidents and Engroff violated a position of trust.


Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy said the profound impact the crime had on the victim and her family was a significant aggravating factor in determining his sentence.

“She has endured something no child should have to endure,” Murphy said.

Murphy increased Engroff’s bail from $1,000 to $10,000, and ruled that Engroff’s sentence will be stayed pending appeal of the case, both in response to motions filed by Bowe. As a result, if Engroff makes bail, he will be free, under conditions, until his appeal is heard.

In a recorded interview with a Children’s Advocacy Center examiner that was played in court during the trial, the girl said Engroff touched her inappropriately on multiple occasions in West Gardiner and Augusta in 2020.

The jury found Engroff guilty of the charges that took place in West Gardiner, but not the allegations involving the Augusta residence, finding him not guilty of one count each of unlawful sexual contact and unlawful sexual touching.

Prior to sentencing Engroff on Monday, Murphy rejected Bowe’s motion for a new trial. Among other issues, Bowe argued that in the recorded interview with the girl, the jury was improperly shown allegations of conduct that was not charged in the case.


None of the incidents is alleged to have occurred while Engroff was on duty or working for the Maine Army National Guard as a staff sergeant. At the time of his trial, National Guard officials said Engroff was no longer a full-time active Guard and Reserve soldier, but remained a “drill status soldier,” attached to Joint Force Headquarters in Augusta.

Col. Michael Steinbuchel, public affairs officer for the Maine National Guard, said Monday that now that the trial, conviction and sentencing have occurred, the command will evaluate and exercise its administrative disciplinary authority regarding Engroff.

Steinbuchel said when commanders deem it necessary to separate servicemembers for misconduct, they utilize an administrative separation board process outlined in Army regulation.

He said the Maine National Guard takes matters of alleged misconduct seriously, regardless of whether the alleged incidents occur on or off duty.

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