Grand jury indicts former volunteer rec coach on sex charges

Posted July 29, 2011, at 6:57 p.m.
Last modified July 29, 2011, at 9:51 p.m.

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — The Penobscot County grand jury has indicted a former volunteer basketball coach and referee on child molestation charges.

East Millinocket and Medway Recreation Department Director Frank Clukey said that as far as he knows, Ralph O. Sprague resigned his position as a coach and referee in February or March because of personal reasons only.

“I myself have never witnessed or been involved with any inappropriate behavior on his part,” Clukey said Friday. “All I know is that he resigned because of things involved in his personal life.”

The grand jury on Wednesday indicted Sprague, 55, of East Millinocket on nine counts of gross sexual misconduct, three counts of assault, two counts of unlawful sexual touching and a single count of unlawful sexual contact, court officials said. An arraignment date has not been set.

Clukey said that as far as he knows, there is no connection between Sprague’s coaching and any activities that might have led to his being indicted.

“As a volunteer, he has done a very good job. We had no problems. This comes as a complete surprise,” Clukey said.

East Millinocket police Officer Cameron McDunnah, who handled the investigation, referred comment Thursday to Police Chief Garold “Twig” Cramp, who is off this week. The prosecutor handling the case, Alice Clifford, is on vacation until Monday, officials at the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office said.

Sprague was also a Medway Middle School coach of basketball or soccer who had agreed to coach baseball just before submitting his resignation from those positions in early spring, said Quenten Clark, superintendent of Great Northern AOS No. 66, which serves East Millinocket, Medway and Woodville.

“I had frankly never heard of him until he submitted his resignation,” said Clark, who started as superintendent in December.

Minutes of the March 1 Medway School Committee meeting show that Sprague would have been paid $1,150 to coach baseball.

According to the court documents, the unlawful sexual touching, a class C misdemeanor, and two unlawful sexual contact charges, both class D misdemeanors, pertain to allegations involving a girl who was under the age of 14 at the time. The alleged incidents occurred between December 2010 and February 2011, the documents state.

Class C misdemeanors carry prison sentences of one to five years. Class D sentences can run up to a year.

The nine gross sexual misconduct charges involve a boy under age 14 and allegedly occurred between November 1985 and February 1988, the documents state.

Gross sexual misconduct is a felony that carries up to 30 years imprisonment.

For at least eight years, Sprague coached the Medway and East Millinocket third- to sixth-grade girls and boys youth basketball teams and the fifth- and sixth-grade traveling teams, Clukey said.

He had been a softball coach at one time, but that pre-dated his basketball coaching, said Jodi Nelson, the program’s assistant director.

Sprague apparently has an unlisted telephone number and could not be reached for comment.

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