As a punishment for not finishing household chores, Matthew Baist raped his victim and beat her into submission when she tried to fight back.
After less than 45 minutes of deliberation, a jury found Baist guilty Thursday of sexual battery on a victim younger than 12 and sexual battery by a person with familial or custodial authority. He is facing mandatory life in prison, which will be imposed on Sept. 14.
Assistant State Attorney Mattie Tondreault told jurors that the first assault happened a week before the victim’s twelfth birthday. When the girl tried to stop his advances, Baist hit her, causing her eye to become red.
Baist continued punishing the victim by sexually assaulting her for about a month and a half.
On May 4, 2017, the victim’s aunt learned something inappropriate may be happening with Baist, and when she sat down with the victim, the girl burst into tears.
She told her aunt that Baist had sex with her five times and would hit her when she tried to stop him. The aunt testified she recalled seeing a red mark on the victim’s eye in the days leading up to her twelfth birthday, which was in the time period the first assault happened.
The victim said the last time Baist forced himself on her, he choked her. The victim’s aunt saw red marks on the girl’s neck and immediately called law enforcement.
Detectives did a series of controlled phone calls with Baist. He did not admit to anything on the first two calls, but he also never denied having sex with the victim.
On the third call, when Baist was asked if he had sex with the girl, he said, “yeah.”
The doctor who examined the victim said she had several internal abrasions that were consistent with sexual abuse. The doctor also noted red marks on the victim’s neck from the physical abuse.
When DNA from the sexual assault kit was tested, it was a match for Baist.
In closing arguments, the defense told jurors that the victim was mistaken about the first assault having occurred before her twelfth birthday. He said that the red mark on the girl’s eye was circumstantial and could not be linked to the first sexual assault.
But Tondreault reminded jurors that something as traumatic as a sexual assault is not an event that the victim would be mistaken about.
“The first time this happens to a little girl is the first time her world comes crashing down,” Tondreault said. “She (the victim) told you it haunts her and that she has nightmares. All of the physical evidence corroborates what she told you.”