BANGOR, Maine — An Orono man arrested in April after a 14-year-old Orono Middle School student told a school resource officer that a man was contacting him over the Internet and asking for sex has been sentenced to six months in jail with all but 30 days suspended and a year of probation.
In an agreement with prosecutors, William Dana Reed, 45, pleaded guilty on Jan. 14 in Penobscot County Superior Court to attempting to engage in a sex act in a public place, according the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office.
Conditions of Reed’s probation include no contact with the victim, who is now 15, Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, said Wednesday. Reed is not required to register as a sex offender or prohibited from having a computer.
Reed began serving his sentence at the Penobscot County Jail on Friday, according to jail personnel.
He was sentenced to the maximum jail time allowed for the misdemeanor to which he pleaded guilty, Roberts said. His only previous run-ins with police have been for traffic offenses.
Reed was indicted in June by the Penobscot County grand jury for attempted gross sexual assault and soliciting a child by a computer. If he had been convicted on those charges, he would have faced up to 10 years in prison.
After the student told the school resource officer that a man had contact him through his MySpace account about possibly meeting to have sex, the officer took over the student’s identity using AOL Instant Messenger, according to a report published last year in the Bangor Daily News.
Reed was arrested when the officer arranged for him to meet the 13-year-old boy the officer had posed as underneath the Main Street bridge in Orono, the paper reported.
“The ages on the boy’s MySpace pages and in the context of some of the chats with him ranged from 22 to 31,” Reed’s attorney, Stephen Smith of Bangor, said Wednesday. “My client thought he was talking to an adult. He went to the bridge wanting to confirm the age for sure because he’d been given a variety of ages.”
Roberts said that the different ages the student had used made it difficult to prove that Reed was seeking to have sex with a child who was 13 years old or younger.
“The victim acknowledged that he’d used different ages,” Roberts said, “but he was just doing what the site recommended — disguising his identity.
The prosecution of the case also was hampered by a loophole in the law, he said.
“I was a little troubled to discover that the [state] law does not protect 14- and 15-year-olds from solicitation over the computer. It only covers children 13 and under. This is the first time I’ve dealt with this issue and I’m a little surprised.”
Roberts said he did not know if prosecutors in other parts of the state had dealt with similar cases or if a bill had been submitted to the Legislature to close the loophole.
A complete list of bills to be considered this session will not be available until the end of the month, the Revisor of Statutes Office in Augusta has said. The deadline to submit legislative requests for bills to be drafted was Friday.
Reed ran for a seat in the Maine House of Representatives in 2004 to represent District 19, but lost to Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono. He previously was the director and curator at the University of Maine’s Page Farm and Home Museum, according to previous reports.