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Nearly two years after being accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a Brewer high school student, a former athletic trainer pleaded guilty to sex assault charges Tuesday at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Benjamin Pushard, 28, of Brewer pleaded guilty to one count each of gross sexual assault, a Class A crime, unlawful sexual contact, a Class B crime, and criminal restraint, a Class D crime.
The Bangor Daily News is not naming the teen because she is a victim of sexual abuse.
Pushard is scheduled to be sentenced on June 20. The plea agreement does not include a sentencing recommendation.
The abuse took place between April 1 and May 10, 2015, according to the indictment dated May 25, 2022.
Pushard remains free on $30,000 cash bail with conditions that he not contact the victim or her family.
Joanne Lewis, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County, did not immediately return a request for comment on the case.
Pushard’s defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor said that his client has taken responsibility for his conduct.
The victim in May 2021 sued Pushard, members of his family, the Brewer School Department, several of its employees and Pushard’s employer, who was contracted by the department to provide athletic training services. She filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Bangor before she reported the abuse to police.
Now 21, the victim is seeking $5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. The lawsuit is pending.
The criminal charges focused on conduct that took place over a five- or six-week period in 2015 when she was 13 and he was 20, however the civil complaint alleged abuse continued into 2017.
Pushard allegedly took steps to conceal his conduct and was worried he could be charged with a sex crime, according to court documents.
The abuse ended in May 2017. The victim says she has suffered physically and emotionally, as well as the loss of enjoyment of life and recreational activities. She has incurred medical costs and the loss of earning capacity, all of which will continue in the future, the complaint said.
In exchange for his guilty pleas, the following charges were dismissed: four counts of gross sexual assault, one a Class A crime, one a Class B crime, two counts that are Class C crimes and one count of unlawful sexual contact, a Class C crime.
On the charges he pleaded guilty to, Pushard faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 on the gross sexual assault charge, up to 10 years in prison on the unlawful sexual contact charge and a fine of up to $20,000 on the unlawful sexual contact charge, and up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000 on the criminal restraint charge.
Under Maine law, Pushard will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.