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A former guardsman accused of raping another soldier during a drill weekend in 2019 accepted a deal last month where he was convicted of felony aggravated assault, and, in exchange, two counts of gross sexual assault were dropped.
David Cyr, who served with the Maine Army National Guard, entered a no contest plea to the assault charge on Aug. 18 during a Zoom hearing in Washington County Superior Court, according to his lawyer, Jeffrey Davidson. A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt but nevertheless results in a conviction much like a guilty plea.
Cyr, whom the guard discharged earlier this year, is now serving a 90-day jail sentence at the Washington County Jail in Machias and will then serve three years of probation. The plea deal means he will not have to register as a sex offender.
“The offer was too good to turn down, was sort of the perspective we had,” Davidson said, noting that his client could have faced years in prison if he went to trial and lost.
Cyr’s case was one of several featured in a Bangor Daily News investigation last year that exposed a predatory culture inside the Maine Army National Guard.
The criminal charges were notable inside an organization where women are often afraid to come forward. At the same time, the plea agreement speaks to how difficult it is, in Maine and elsewhere, to prove rape allegations in court.
In April 2021, Cyr, who held the rank of specialist, was charged with one count of gross sexual assault for allegedly raping a woman two years earlier while the two were out drinking with their unit following a day of training in Washington County, according to a police affidavit. He was indicted on an additional count last November.
A female witness told a detective that the woman had disappeared with Cyr for a time, then returned with her shirt inside out, acting “weird” and “panicky.” She then confided in the woman and later to police that Cyr had sexually assaulted her, the affidavit said.
The next morning, the female witness told a supervisor about it, according to her statement. She also told the detective that Cyr “was known for going for any woman that came into the unit.”
But as the case headed toward trial, prosecutors saw challenges that could pose a risk of losing in court, said Matt Foster, district attorney for Washington and Hancock counties, and he didn’t want Cyr to walk away with an acquittal.
Cyr accepted the plea deal but maintains his innocence, his attorney said.
After Cyr was charged, the guard stripped him of his rank and told him not to come to drills until further notice, Davidson said.
Cyr no longer serves in the guard. He was discharged in March, according to Maj. Carl Lamb, a spokesperson for the guard. Lamb otherwise declined to comment on the specific details of the case, citing federal confidentiality laws.
It is unclear what kind of discharge Cyr received, which would affect the benefits he is entitled to and whether he is able to reenlist.
“While we cannot comment on the administrative disciplinary action of individual service members, I can tell you that the Maine National Guard initiates administrative separation proceedings against perpetrators for all substantiated allegations of sexual assault,” Lamb said. “Sexual assault is not compatible with any type of military service.”