December 9, 2013

Windsor man loses bid to throw out evidence in sexual abuse trial

Twenty-two charges list the same girl as victim of eight years of abuse.

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — A Windsor man lost his bid Monday to prevent the prosecution from using a 40-minute recorded interview in which he admits to an investigator that he had sexual contact with a young girl over a period of years.

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Richard Libby

Contributed photo

Richard M. Libby, 48, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with eight counts each of gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact and six counts of unlawful sexual touching between 2001 and 2009 in Windsor. All the counts name the same girl as the victim. She was at times under age 12 and under age 14.

Libby is scheduled for a jury trial next week in Kennebec County Superior Court.

In a pretrial hearing Monday, his attorney, William Baghdoyan argued that the June 12, 2012, interview with Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. David Bucknam should be suppressed because Libby was not fit to respond to Bucknam’s questions about his relationship with the girl.

Libby testified Monday that he was sleep-deprived from working two jobs, including an overnight job, had smoked about a dozen joints of marijuana and had unknowingly ingested Seroquel, an antidepressant.

Jacob Paradis, of Weeks Mills, a fellow inmate at the Kennebec County jail, testified Monday he slipped three 200-mg pills into Libby’s Coca-Cola while they were at a late night party June 11 at a public boat landing in Waterville. Libby, he said, had told him he was having trouble sleeping and asked for help.

Libby testified that he doesn’t drink, but that he started to feel groggy as he was driving home. “I know what stoned is and that wasn’t stoned,” Libby said.

He said he expected to be asked about his girlfriend’s recent car accident and was stunned when Bucknam told him about the sexual abuse accusations.

“It stung me real bad, and I had a mental lapse for a second,” Libby testified. “I tried to clear my head and figure out what was going on.”

He said he wanted Bucknam to leave him alone.

“I started to admit to everything just to get him out of my hair so I could go back in and go back to bed,” Libby said.

Baghdoyan said Bucknam implied to Libby that nothing serious was going to happen as a result of the interview.

The judge disagreed with Baghdoyan’s position and refused to keep the interview out of the upcoming trial.

“I’ve listened to a lot of interviews on motions to suppress,” Justice Donald Marden said. “And I’m struck by how articulate and responsive the defendant was to Sgt. Bucknam’s questions. I agree with the state it was very much a conversation and not an interrogation.”

Marden said he had heard no evidence on Monday that Libby’s demeanor during the interview was much different from that on the witness stand on Monday.

On the tape, Libby initially denies sexual contact with the girl, but then says he touched her. “I’d just play with her a little bit,” he said.

He denied having intercourse with her, but said she could have mistaken some acts for that.

“I don’t understand why I did it,” Libby says on the tape. “This ain’t me.” Later, he tells the investigator, “I tried to stop a couple of times but I just couldn’t.”

Libby says he knew he should not have done it and asks Bucknam how much jail time he faces. “I know this is going to come back and bite me in the ass,” Libby says.

During the interview, which takes place in Bucknam’s cruiser outside Libby’s girlfriend’s home in Somerville, Bucknam also tells Libby that the alleged victim’s mother has taken out a protection from abuse order against him, meaning he can’t have any contact with her or the daughter and that he can’t possess firearms.

At the end of the interview, Bucknam follows Libby into his house and takes away Libby’s hunting rifle, telling him it will be at the sheriff’s office until Libby makes other arrangements for it.

In response to questions from the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Fernand Larochelle, Bucknam testified that he lied when he told Libby that the girl had saved her underwear from encounters and that tests found Libby’s DNA on it. Bucknam also said he did not tell Libby the interview was being recorded.

“Yes, the officer did employ trickery,” LaRochelle said in his closing. “The court has recognized the practical necessity of deceit in criminal investigations.”

Baghdoyan’s motion to suppress said Bucknam’s “implied promises of leniency and outright falsehoods were also used in an attempt to cause the defendant to confess to sexual offenses for which he was charged and affected his mental state such as to make it impossible for him to make a rational and free choice to confess.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631 badams@centralmaine.com Twitter: @betadams

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