M. Robert Barter pleads guilty to unlawful sexual contact and assault
Aaron Miller and Kevin Burnham
On Thursday, April 8 in Kennebec County Superior Court, Merrill Robert Barter of Boothbay Harbor pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual contact and assault on a teenage boy, a charge he was indicted on in November 1998.
Justice Nancy Mills gave Barter, 69, a suspended sentence of two years in prison, with two years probation. She also ordered Barter to have no contact with the victim, undergo psychological evaluation for sexual abuse; and follow a treatment plan, if necessary, under the supervision of his probation officer. Barter must also pay $2,500 in counseling costs should the victim require it.
Barter entered his plea just as jury selection was to begin Thursday on the misdemeanor charge.
According to Barter's attorney, Jodi Nofsinger, he changed his plea because usually a defendant will wait to hear the case that is being brought forward.
``When there is a case against any criminal, we usually get discovery at the arraignment,'' she said.
Barter, Boothbay Harbor's Town Clerk for the past 45 years and a Lincoln County Commissioner for 30 years, has told fellow commissioners that he plans to continue serving as a commissioner until his terms ends on January 1, 2001.
Barter was indicted last November in Kennebec County for molesting a teenage boy at a motel near the Augusta Civic Center on May 29, 1998 during the Republican State Convention which he attended.
Last month, Barter told Boothbay Harbor officials that he would not seek another term as town clerk. If Barter was to change his mind about keeping the commissioner's job, Governor Angus King would appoint his replacement, based on a list of names provided by the Lincoln County Republican Committee.
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