The co-founder of a midcoast youth theater troupe who also taught in a Catholic school in Brunswick was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in state prison for sexually abusing eight children over three years.
Henry A. Eichman, 57, of Topsham entered what is known as an Alford plea on a total of 10 counts, including nine felonies, said Sagadahoc District Attorney Jonathan Liberman. The Alford plea arrangement means Eichman continued to deny the charges for the record, but agreed to plead guilty to them in light of the state’s evidence. The plea carries all the weight of a conviction.
Eichman’s arrest in September 2016 shocked the scores of families who participate in the Midcoast Youth Theater, a group that Eichman helped found in 2003 and where he served as a director of some shows put on regularly each year.
In addition to his work at the community group, Eichman also had been a part-time drama teacher at the Saint John’s Catholic School in Brunswick since 2008.
Liberman said he thought the outcome of the case was fair and lauded the Topsham and Brunswick police departments for their investigations. He declined to say whether he believed other children could have been victimized by Eichman without the abuse being brought to the attention of law enforcement.
“I believe this is an outcome that is fair and consistent with similar cases in court in the state of Maine,” Liberman said. “I’m also happy he’s going to prison for 10 years and he’ll be on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life. I think the community is being protected by this sentence.”
Liberman said any future allegations of sexual abuse or sexual assault will be fully investigated, and if the evidence supports it, prosecuted.
Annie Stevens, one of Eichman’s defense attorneys, said the plea agreement came together over the past month.
“Part of the Alford plea is the defendant is admitting that the state has enough evidence to likely convict him at a trial,” Stevens said. “We had reached a point where that seemed to be a reality, and Mr. Eichman didn’t want to put anyone through an unnecessary trial.”
Justice Daniel Billings sentenced Eichman to 10 years in Maine State Prison for one count of unlawful sexual contact, and 10 years each on seven identical charges, each to run concurrent with the first sentence. Regarding a ninth felony count of unlawful sexual contact, Billings gave Eichman a suspended 10-year sentence with four years of probation, meaning that if Eichman fails to comply with the conditions of his probation after his release he could face another 10 years in state prison. Billings also resolved three counts of misdemeanor unlawful sexual contact, for which Eichman was sentenced to 364 days in prison, the maximum penalty, all to run concurrently with the felony sentences.
Upon his release from prison, Eichman will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, and comply with a bevy of probation conditions that include undergoing sex offender and substance abuse counseling. Eichman also will be forbidden from possessing any sexually explicit materials or child erotica, or visiting any schools or school-related functions or extracurricular activities, including any activities at parks, recreational fields or facilities that cater to children.
Eichman also was ordered not to have contact with the eight children involved in the crimes, or any children under the age of 16. He also will be subject to random searches and drug- and alcohol-related testing.
According to court documents, some of the abuse occurred at Eichman’s home, where he hosted sleepovers and pool parties for children he met through youth theater.
In April, six months after his initial arrest, Eichman was indicted on two counts of sexual abuse in Cumberland County for acts that allegedly occurred the day before his arrest in Sagadahoc County six months prior. Although the indictment did not specify where the alleged abuse took place beyond a location in Brunswick, the wording of the charges suggest it occurred either at St. John’s Catholic School or involved a student at the school, which offers classes for students from pre-K through eighth grade.
Liberman said Eichman answered perfunctory questions during the plea and sentencing hearing, but declined to offer remarks to the court. As part of the deal, Liberman agreed to dismiss three counts of visual sexual aggression, which stemmed from incidents in which Eichman is alleged to have taken photographs or videos of children.
Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:
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