BATH, Maine — A 26-year-old Bath man charged in June 2014 with injuring his 8-week-old son pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault charges as part of a plea agreement and was sentenced to two years of probation.
Brandon Ross was arrested by Bath police in June 2014 following his indictment by a grand jury on six counts of felony aggravated assault, three counts of felony assault and three misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Ross maintained that his son’s injuries resulted from a genetic disorder, Ehlers Danlos syndrome, that Ross’ attorney, Amy Fairfield, said “mimics the symptoms and signs of child abuse because of broken bones.”
In September 2015, under the terms of a plea agreement, Ross pleaded no contest to two counts of simple assault, and prosecutors dismissed the six charges of Class B felony aggravated assault, three counts of Class C felony assault and three misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child, according to court records.
As part of the agreement, former Sagadahoc County Assistant District Attorney Patricia Mador amended the charges to delete any reference to a child under 6 or household member, thereby reducing the charge to a Class D misdemeanor for simple assault, according to a Sept. 14 motion to amend.
Justice Andrew Horton sentenced Ross to 364 days in jail, all suspended. He will serve two years probation.
Ross’ wife, Cynthia Ross, said March 18 that the child and another child, who had been removed from the home by state child welfare workers after the charges, were returned to the couple’s custody after the Maine Department of Health and Human Services dismissed its case.
Cynthia Ross released the following statement to the Bangor Daily News on March 18: “After nearly 18 months of not living under the same roof, we swallowed our pride and did what seemed best for our family. Had Brandon not agreed to the plea bargain, it is likely that our family would remain fractured for many more months. We couldn’t bear to prolong this nightmare and risk further damage to our family. We are thankful that it is over and we can begin to heal. We are happy to finally have the freedom to seek the treatment that [the couple’s son] needs.”
Ross’ attorney Fairfield said in October that Ross agreed to the plea in part because a trial date was likely four months away at the earliest and could have been later given the number of experts she planned to fly in from around the country.
“The biggest thing for Brandon and his family was, he was really looking forward to being a parent and having his family back together and not having to worry about collateral court matters,” she said.
Among the conditions of the plea, Fairfield said, was that Ross not be required to acknowledge he caused the injuries.
“He was pretty insistent on not admitting he was guilty,” Fairfield said. “It was a really, really difficult decision for him to make and he vacillated a lot. But he was steadfast that he was innocent and there was significant evidence to back that up.”
Mador has since been transferred to Androscoggin County Court.
“I am confident, based on what I read in the file and learned from former Assistant DA Pat Mador and others, that the experts to be called by the state were highly qualified and would be able to give persuasive testimony,” Sagadahoc County District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said Thursday. “The problem is that at a trial where the defense also presents supposedly expert testimony on a complex medical issue, a guilty finding is not automatic. Even when experts for the state testify credibly, it is an entirely plausible outcome that one or more jurors have a reasonable doubt and won’t agree with a verdict of guilty.”