BANGOR, Maine — A registered sex offender was convicted by a jury Wednesday on charges that he sexually assaulted a neighbor girl in 1986 and 1987.

Dean Knights, 71, of Enfield was found guilty on four counts of gross sexual misconduct after a daylong trial at the Penobscot Judicial Center, according to Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy. The jury deliberated for about 40 minutes.

District Court Judge Gregory Campbell ordered Knights be held at the Penobscot County Jail until his sentencing on March 21, Almy said.

“The reason we went forward with this case is because she had the courage to step up and explain what had happened to the Maine State Police [last year],” the prosecutor said after the trial ended. “When we talked to her, it was apparent that she was quite detailed in what she remembered of some of these horrific incidents. We were convinced that she would be able to explain what had happened to the jury so that they would understand and convict him.”

The victim, who is now 36 and lives in Gray, testified that the abuse began when she was 6½ and continued until she was 9. She testified that Knights often babysat her and her two younger brothers at his home while her mother worked as a nurse at Penobscot Valley Regional Hospital in Lincoln. She told the jury her father was a binge drinker and unable to care for himself or his children.

“Right away he started doing things that I thought were kind of creepy like running his fingers through my hair,” the victim said of Knights after identifying him from the witness stand. “He’d have me sit on his lap and he’d rub my back with his hands.”

The victim said that when she and her brothers would spend the night at Knights, he had her sleep in his bed and perform a sex act on him. She said that he rubbed his genitals against hers but stopped short of penetration.

She told the jury that once as a reward, he let her sit on the seat in his truck in between his legs and drive Knights’ truck on nearby tote roads.

The victim said that she was an adult before she told anyone about the abuse.

“While I was driving the truck he whispered in my ear, ‘I would hate it if you told anyone because the next time we do this the door might fall open and you fall out and get run over,’” she testified.

The victim also said Knights told her that if her father found out about the abuse he would do something that would get her father arrested.

“He told me that we would wind up in foster care and I’d never see my brothers again and I adored my brothers,” she said.

Defense attorney Randy Day of Garland said Wednesday night that his client was “very disappointed” in the verdict and the case would be appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court after sentencing.

Almy said that Knights took the stand and denied the victim’s accusations. The defendant also said when asked about the alleged acts, “I can’t recall,” according to the prosecutor.

Knights is required to register as a sex offender for life due to a 1990 conviction for unlawful sexual contact with a child under the age of 14, according to information posted on the Maine Sex Offender Registry.

He was sentenced to one year in jail with all but 30 days suspended followed by two years of probation, Almy said during a break in the trial Wednesday.

Knights faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 on the conviction Wednesday.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.