CARIBOU, Maine — The former chief of the Caribou Fire and Ambulance Department who spent 44 years with the department before abruptly resigning has pleaded guilty to several sex charges lodged against him last year.
Aroostook County Assistant District Attorney John Pluto said Monday night that Roy E. Woods, 69, has no sentencing date scheduled, but he is hoping it will occur in the next month.
Pluto said that Woods pleaded guilty on June 7 to five misdemeanor counts, which included two counts of unlawful sexual contact, two counts of assault and one count of unlawful sexual touching. Each count carries a maximum sentence of up to 364 days in jail. The plea was entered in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou.
“It is an open plea, so the state is free to argue for him to get anywhere from zero days in jail to up to the maximum sentence on each count,” said Pluto.
Pluto said that the case involves two victims who were subject to unwanted contact by Woods. The contact with the first victim took place in 2009, and the second victim had contact with Woods between 2010 and 2011, according to Pluto.
The crimes reportedly all occurred in Caribou.
Woods was not arrested and was not considered a flight risk.
The former chief’s career included 21 years as the head of fire, ambulance and emergency management services for the city. According to a copy of his resignation letter, Woods said he was resigning for “medical reasons,” and indicated that the stress of the job had become too much for he and his wife to handle.
He went on to say that he “spent his life” working to protect the city, working his way up from firefighter to firefighter and paramedic instructor and eventually chief.
Former City Manager Steven Buck, however, issued a statement in January 2012 indicating that he accepted the resignation “in lieu of termination” after an investigation into a complaint filed against the fire chief by a city employee.
In his statement to the media, Buck referred to an investigation into a complaint against Woods.
“An independent investigation into the personnel matter was conducted with an expanded scope,” said Buck. “After extensive review and evaluation of the results of the investigation, my own evaluation, and after reviewing these evaluations with Woods and a subsequent review of his responses, I accepted his immediate resignation.”
Pluto said on Monday evening that he felt that it would be a challenge for the judge at Woods’ sentencing to weigh his longtime service against his misconduct and what he has done to his victims and to his department and fellow firefighters.
“I think that some length of incarceration is certainly appropriate,” Pluto said. “But the judge has to weigh what he has done against his clean record, the fact that he is in his retirement years and that he has a long history of public service.”
Firefighter and paramedic Scott Susi, a seven-year member of the Caribou Fire and Ambulance Department, was named the new chief last March.
Woods’ attorney, James Dunleavy of Presque Isle, did not respond to request for comment Tuesday.
To reach a sexual assault advocate, call the Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Line at 800-871-7741, TTY 888-458-5599. This free and confidential 24-hour service is accessible from anywhere in Maine. Calls are automatically routed to the closest sexual violence service provider.