ELLSWORTH — Several jurors for the Benjamin Hodgdon II sexual assault trial have received letters that led to recent police complaints, according the Hancock County District Attorney Matthew Foster.
Hodgdon was convicted March 16 of single counts of gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and sexual abuse of a minor following a three-day trial in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court.
Foster said he could not comment on the letter case, which is under investigation by the Maine Attorney General’s Office. The investigation began after one of the jurors reported to Ellsworth police on May 12 that she had received an “odd” letter. Since then, at least six jurors have reported receiving the letters, police said. Such communications could result in criminal charges against the sender.
Hodgdon was convicted of molesting a young female student in 1999 and 2000 while he was employed as a teacher and coach at the Tremont Consolidated School. The jury – 10 men and two women – deliberated for about five-and-a-half hours before returning the verdict. Hodgdon was acquitted on three additional counts of gross sexual assault and single counts of unlawful sexual contact and sexual abuse of a minor.
Ellsworth police did not disclose the contents of the letter.
Lisa Marchese, chief of the criminal division of the attorney general’s office, said Tuesday that she could not comment on the investigation, which is being conducted by state police detectives.
“We’re looking at the letters themselves, who wrote them and who sent them,” Marchese said. It could be several weeks before the investigation is complete and a determination is made on whether or not to file charges. Among the possible charges are stalking, obstruction of justice and tampering, Marchese said.
Hodgdon is free on bail until his sentencing, which is to take place after a presentence investigation is prepared. A date for the sentencing has not been set. He faces up to 30 years in prison.
Posts to a website called “I Believe in Ben” and subtitled “For the Pursuit of Life and Love” began after Hodgdon’s conviction in March. While the author of the blog posts is not clearly identified, the posts are written from the perspective of Hodgdon’s wife, Hilary Hodgdon. In the posts, the author refers to Hodgdon as “Sam” and the victim as “Vee.”
Until last week, the post at the top of the site, dated April 20, was a letter addressed “Dear Members of the Jury.” The lengthy post thanks the jurors for their “due diligence” and “attention” during the March 14-16 trial and goes on to talk about the case and the negative impact on the Hodgdon family, to make allegations about the victim and to question the decision of the jurors. It is signed “Sincerely, Hilary.”
The “letter” was deleted from the site sometime after the AG’s office launched its investigation. Other posts on the site referring to the Hodgdon trial remained as of Tuesday.
The deleted post criticizes the judge and prosecutors for her husband’s conviction.
“We fought our hardest for an opportunity tell you Sam’s side of this heinous story and to show you the truth. The judge denied pieces of evidence and even witnesses that could prove the story Sam told was the truth,” the author wrote. “The lawyers involved decided they didn’t care who was telling the truth, they just wanted to win for the sake of their egos and their careers.”
The author questioned the victim’s motives and again blamed the judge, alleging he disallowed testimony from defense witnesses.
“Her allegations of sexual assault by a former teacher have been done in an attempt to gain money from the school she attended and from our family,” the document states. “Her allegations of sexual assault were fabricated and she knows it as do members of her family and our community. But you were not permitted by the judge to hear from these people, nor hear from others who had been extorted by her.”
“Know that you didn’t hear the whole story,” the post continues. “Know that even now I cannot even begin to tell you the whole story know that you sent a man to his death and then went home to your dinner and your regular work week.”
“When you go to bed tonight and you fear whatever it is you fear the most think of me, think of us,” the post concludes. “Don’t fear losing your house, your job, your car or your way of life. Fear yourself and the demons others see in you because of their own shadows. The world is a place we see through the tint of our own internal landscape. What does yours look like?”
Following his conviction, Hodgdon filed a motion for a new trial and a motion for acquittal on two of the counts on which he was convicted. Both motions were denied by the trial judge, Justice Robert Murray.