DOVER-FOXCROFT — A former barber who operated shops in Dover-Foxcroft and Greenville pleaded no contest Monday in Piscataquis County Superior Court to sexually abusing an underage girl under his employment “hundreds of times” beginning in 2004.
Donald Denbow, 68, of Shirley could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine on each of 13 counts of gross sexual assault involving a girl who was 11 when the abuse began and 14 when it ended. He also could serve up to one year in prison and be fined $2,000 for one count of sexual abuse of a minor, which involved another young girl under his employ. The girls were hired to clean his barbershop after hours.
Sentencing for Denbow, who was convicted in 1982 of sexually abusing his own daughter from the ages of 5 to 13, was continued.
Asked by presiding Justice William Anderson if he understood each of the charges, Denbow answered, “Yes, I do, your honor.”
Denbow’s attorney, Richard Hartley of Bangor, told Anderson that Denbow has taken responsibility for his actions but was entering a no contest plea on Hartley’s advice because of the specter of civil litigation. He said Denbow, who disagrees with some of the details of what had occurred, would speak at his sentencing later in the year.
One of the girls, who began working for Denbow at age 10, told police that Denbow began having sex with her when she was 11, and it continued “hundreds of times” in the barbershop. She said he would pay her for it. The other girl accused Denbow of making sexual advances, including putting his hand inside her underwear, while she worked for him between March and May 2008. She rebuffed Denbow’s sexual advances, quit and told police.
Dover-Foxcroft police officers, who were assisted in the investigation by the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department and Greenville Police Department, arranged a sting operation in August when Denbow asked to meet one of the girls.
Outside the courtroom Monday, Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy credited Dover-Foxcroft police Officer Scott Arno, a part-time investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, for bringing the case forward.
Arno was able to interview the girls in such a way that they felt comfortable telling him what happened, according to Almy.
“’Mr. Denbow is a first-class child predator,” Almy said. “Scott Arno should be commended for doing all he could and did to protect the community.”
Arno, with the girls’ cooperation, set up the sting operation in order to nab Denbow, according to Almy. The girl told police that Denbow had attempted to reach her through cell phone text messages and had asked her to meet him somewhere in late September. A date was set, and Denbow allegedly assumed he was meeting the girl in Dover-Foxcroft for sex, but Dover-Foxcroft police were waiting for him instead.
When police executed search warrants of Denbow’s Greenville business and home at the time of his arrest, several items were seized, including sexually explicit photographs of children, including the two girls.