BELFAST, Maine — A jury unanimously found former Searsport music teacher William Wiley guilty on Wednesday night of 10 counts of unlawful sexual contact against a child, but determined that he is not guilty of gross sexual assault, the most serious charge.
Wiley was accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl in 2004.
After the verdict was read, Wiley’s now 20-year-old victim clasped hands with her mother and boyfriend in Waldo County Superior Court. On the other side of the room, about a dozen people present in support of Wiley talked quietly together, some with eyes reddened from crying.
The victim’s mother said that her daughter had “tons” of support during the ordeal, from family and community members alike.
“Her friends and family are very proud of her for being courageous,” her mother said. “She suffered. Now, she has her peace.”
In contrast, when Wiley, 41, left the courthouse to be taken to Waldo County Jail for the night, the man who had sounded confident and certain when taking the witness stand Tuesday appeared stunned and distressed.
“It’s wrong,” he said of the verdict. “Totally wrong. I’m not guilty.”
After deliberating for about seven hours, the jury of eight women and four men had determined that the former teacher was guilty of seven counts of Class C unlawful sexual contact not including penetration. They also found he was guilty of three counts of Class B unlawful sexual contact including penetration.
For each Class C count, Wiley could face up to five years in prison. For each Class B count, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
Deadlocked jurors spent about two hours in the jury room before they came to a decision about the gross sexual assault charge.
“We’re very disappointed in the convictions that did come down,” defense attorney Steve Peterson said. “We fully expect this case is going to be taken up on appeal — this case is far from over.”
The appeal will be based on the idea that the long statement that Wiley gave to a police detective in 2009, during which he confessed to having had unlawful contact with the victim, violated the defendant’s Miranda rights, Peterson said.
The attorney said he had made a motion to suppress the interview two years ago but Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm allowed it to be used as evidence.
Superior Court Justice Ann Murray, who presided over the three-day-long criminal trial, decided that Wiley would be held overnight without bail and would have a hearing on the question of post-conviction bail Thursday. He has been free on $3,000 bail since being arrested in 2009.
Wiley’s sentencing likely will be held in one to two months and is expected to be a long process with many people speaking both for and against him, said Waldo County Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker.
“I’m obviously very pleased with [the verdict],” Walker said outside the courthouse. “Obviously, the jury worked and struggled. It was a very complicated and a very emotional case.”
He said he didn’t believe Wiley “did himself any favors, frankly,” when he took the stand in his own defense.
“There were obviously major inconsistencies in Mr. Wiley’s story,” Walker said.
The deputy attorney general had told jurors in his closing arguments Wednesday that they were faced with a stark choice.
Was Wiley living a double life as a respected Searsport music teacher who secretly preyed on a 12-year-old girl who lived in his home? Or was he the victim of a web of lies spun by a teenager angry with him for trying to put boundaries on her out-of-control behavior?
“You folks, as the triers of the facts, are lucky in that you have two very, very different versions of events,” Walker had told jurors. “The events are either black or white. There are no shades of gray here at all.”
Over the two-day criminal trial, the jurors had heard testimony from the alleged victim, Wiley and six people who spoke about the former teacher’s good reputation in Searsport and dedication to his role as a family man. Jurors also watched and listened to the more than 2½-hour-long initial police interview of Wiley, during which the extremely emotional and distraught man confessed to a detective that he had sexually abused the victim.
When Peterson gave his own closing statements, he told the jurors that the state had not succeeded in proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt, which they must do in order to find his client guilty on any of the 11 charges.
“This case is comprised of the incredible testimony of [the victim] and the incomplete investigation of the detective,” Peterson said. “This case is riddled with reasonable doubt.”
The attorney said that the case, at its base, is about credibility, and that he believes the testimony by witnesses showed that Wiley is much more credible than the victim.
“Nobody in that household had any knowledge of anything improper going on for those six months or the following five years,” Peterson said. “And the reason she had that vacant look on her face on the stand when I was asking her questions is because she wasn’t telling the truth.”
He also said that Detective Jason Bosco of the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office acted improperly during his initial interview, which he described as an interrogation without having read Wiley his Miranda rights.
“My client was sobbing and writhing on the floor,” Peterson said. “What does the officer do? Does he say, ‘Let’s take a break?’ No! He continues interrogating him on the floor. If that’s not coercive behavior, I don’t know what is.”
But Walker told the jurors they must use common sense during deliberations.
“What doesn’t make sense is the defendant’s version of this,” he said. “When it was eventually told by Detective Bosco that the secret was out, what was his reaction? He started bawling and crying, because his deep, dark secret was out. … It’s all signs of a guilty conscience.”