Benjamin Hodgdon

Testimony continues in sex assault case

ELLSWORTH – The Tremont man accused of sexually assaulting a Tremont Consolidated School student while working as a teacher there testified Tuesday at his trial that he did engage in a sexual act with the alleged victim but only once and that was when she was eighteen years old.

The jury trial of Benjamin Hodgdon II, 48, began Monday in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court. Hodgdon was indicted in April 2014 on four counts of gross sexual assault, two counts of unlawful sexual contact and two counts of sexual abuse of a minor.

Hodgdon is accused of sexually assaulting a female student during the period 1997 to 2000, when she was in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades and he taught social studies and math in those grades. On Monday, the former student, who will be 30 years old this month, testified Hodgdon sexually assaulted her between 30 and 40 times beginning when she was 12 years old. These incidents occurred at Hodgdon’s home, in his truck and at the school, she said.

Hodgdon took the stand on Tuesday and was questioned by his attorney, David Van Dyke. He is expected to resume testimony on Wednesday. The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Toff Toffolon, did not get a chance to cross-examine Hodgdon before court recessed for the day.

During his testimony, Hodgdon denied having sex with the former student when she was underage. In Maine, the legal age for consent to sexual contact is 16.

Hodgdon also admitted to engaging in a sexual act with a female Mount Desert Island High School basketball player in 2003. The incident occurred after he consumed alcohol at a party at her parents’ home, he said. Remorse about the incident led him to resign as a teacher in April of that year, he said. Responding to his attorney’s question, Hodgdon said he believes a teacher should be a role model and “I was far from that.”

Hodgdon denied have sex with the high school student when she was underage.

Hodgdon testified that the alleged victim had maintained a friendly relationship with him after she left the Tremont school, saying he helped her with her problems with drug addiction and giving her rides for pain management treatment.

“We had a lot of contact,” Hodgdon said. “I would say she was a very good friend of mine.”

That relationship soured sometime in 2006 or 2007, when the woman asked Hodgdon to lend her money to attend cosmetology school and he agreed, he said. She later demanded more money or else she would tell police he had sexually assaulted her when she was a young girl, Hodgdon said.

“She looked and sounded as if she were someone not in her right mind,” Hodgdon said of that encounter.

In response to a subsequent request for money, Hodgdon said he was going to contact an attorney to complain she was engaging in “blackmail.”

The situation grew worse when Hodgdon began a relationship with a woman who later became his wife, he said.

Hodgdon’s current wife, Hilary, also testified on Tuesday. Now 27 years old, she said she met her future husband when she was an 11-year-old student at the Tremont school and Hodgdon was her teacher. She said she felt she had become the subject of retaliation from the alleged victim after her relationship with Hodgdon after she was out of high school became public.

Also among those testifying for the defense Tuesday were several former Tremont Consolidated School students who said Hodgdon as a teacher was someone they could confide in and trusted. They said they never observed any inappropriate behavior.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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