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Home » News » Crime

December 09. 2013 8:54PM

Raymond man faces trial in second child sex assault case

BRENTWOOD — A Raymond man who was freed from state prison when a 1998 sexual assault conviction was overturned, went on trial on another sexual assault charge Monday.

Patrick Eschenbrenner, 51, is being tried in Rockingham County Superior Court on eight counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault and a single count of witness tampering.
He is charged with sexually assaulting a girl over several years, beginning when she was 7 years old. The charge was filed in December, 2011 after the girl recognized him when he visited a family friend in Maine for Thanksgiving, prosecutors charged.

Prosecutors said Eschenbrenner had forced the girl to perform sexual acts on him in Raymond between 2002 and 2007.

But the girl, who is now 16, remained silent about the abuse until she saw Eschenbrenner on Thanksgiving Day 2011 while he was visiting a family friend. At the time, Eschenbrenner was awaiting a new trial after his earlier sex assault conviction was overturned.

Assistant County Attorney Jerome Blanchard told jurors that once the girl saw Eschenbrenner, she confided to a relative that "she wasn't scared anymore to report it."

The alleged abuse was reported to Raymond police. Days later, police secretly monitored a phone call between the girl and Eschenbrenner prior to seeking an arrest warrant.

The jury is expected to hear the recorded phone call in court today.

"What you are going to hear about is exactly the defendant did to (her)," Blanchard told jurors.

A letter that Eschenbrenner wrote to the girl after he was jailed suggested that if she did not appear in court, then prosecutors would have to drop the charges against him, according to Blanchard.

This week's trial marks the second time Eschenbrenner has gone on trial for sexually assaulting a young girl.

In 2008, a jury convicted him of sexually assaulting a young girl in Raymond, and he was sentenced 20 to 40 years in prison. Those assaults happened in 1998.

Eschenbrenner temporarily won his freedom in 2011 when a judge overturned his conviction. While he was free, the second victim stepped forward, and he was arrested in December 2011.

The state Supreme Court then overturned the decision to upend his conviction in the first case, and Eschenbrenner was sent back to state prison.

The jury did not hear about Eschenbrenner's prior conviction or his current state prison sentence. He was dressed in a dark suit during opening arguments on Monday.

Public Defender Brett Newkirk suggested to the jury that the girl's account was vague and lacked enough detail to convict his client. Newkirk called on jurors to carefully scrutinize the testimony of the girl when she takes the witness stand.

"This entire system is designed to prevent the conviction of an innocent man," Newkirk said.

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