CARIBOU, Maine — The former chief of the Caribou Fire Department was told by the two female abuse victims who faced him in court on Thursday afternoon that he used his position to sexually humiliate one of them and also to take advantage of women in the community.
Roy Woods, 68, did not look at the two young women as he sat in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou before being ordered to serve 30 days in jail on five misdemeanor charges — two counts of unlawful sexual contact, two counts of assault and one count of unlawful sexual touching.
In June, Woods pleaded guilty to the charges, each of which carried a maximum sentence of up to 364 days in jail. On Thursday, he was represented by his attorney, James Dunleavy of Presque Isle, as he faced Justice E. Allen Hunter.
Woods’ 44-year career included 21 years as the head of fire, ambulance and emergency management services for the city. In January 2012, Woods said that he was resigning for “medical reasons.” But former City Manager Steven Buck issued a statement at that time 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.
Aroostook County Assistant District Attorney John Pluto said Thursday that Woods had “blackened the name of the Caribou Fire Department” with his crimes. The sexual contact with the first victim took place in 2009, and with the second victim between 2010 and 2011, according to Pluto.
Pluto said that the first victim, who was 18 at the time, was cleaning when Woods called her into his office. The teen was interested in joining a city emergency response team, and the chief told her that he had to do a “physical” on her before she could join. Pluto said that Woods touched her breasts and belly before the young woman got off the table and left. He later called her and apologized, while the victim had a witness monitor the call. She also reported the crime and contacted Presque Isle attorney Sarah LeClaire, who represented the victim and stood by her in court on Thursday.
“He used his position as a fire chief to sexually humiliate me,” the young woman told Hunter. “He should not get away with it. We have to live with that for the rest of our lives.”
Pluto said that after the first victim came forward, State Police Sgt. Josh Haines investigated and found a second victim, who was 25. Pluto said that the woman had four young children, was receiving Temporary Aid to Needy Families benefits and was required to fulfill a certain number of hours of public service work to recoup those benefits. She could only find the work at the Caribou Fire and Ambulance building, he said. During incidents in 2009 and 2010, Woods tried to kiss her, put his hands in her pants and touched her genital area, Pluto said. The woman tried and failed to find other places to work and told two co-workers about what was happening.
“He deserves jail time, because he isn’t going to stop,” the victim told Hunter. “He used his position to take advantage of females, tons of them. I am not the only one. What he did to me was not right.”
Pluto said that Haines identified other women who had been victims of unwanted sexual advances by Woods as far back as 1976, but those cases are too old to prosecute.
A number of people were in court to support Woods, including his son and granddaughter. Ivan Shapiro, a retired surgeon and friend, said that anything other than home confinement would “not benefit the community.” David Bell, a friend for more than 40 years, said that Woods had always been a longtime, dedicated, hardworking city employee. Bell did not want to see him incarcerated.
Diana Cain and Barbara Scott both spoke highly of Woods. Cain said she rented a property from him for 13 years and he had never acted or spoken inappropriately toward her. Scott also spoke highly of his character.
Woods cried briefly as he apologized to his victims.
“I apologize to the victims for anything I said or done,” he said. “I wish I could take time back and right my actions, but I can’t.”
Pluto stressed that Woods had preyed upon two young women who were vulnerable, at one point telling one that he had “a lot of pull” in the community. The assistant district attorney pushed for a significant jail sentence without any home confinement. Defense attorney Dunleavy argued for home confinement, citing Woods’ age, health and his lack of a criminal record.
Hunter noted that Woods “repeatedly exploited his position of authority over the victims,” and agreed with Pluto that he took advantage of their vulnerability. The justice agreed that Woods’ lack of a criminal record, his years of public service and his acceptance of responsibility worked in his favor, but also pointed out that Woods did not plead guilty until the court had selected a jury to go to trial.
“He stands here experiencing his own humiliation,” said Hunter. “This is the consequence he has brought upon himself.”
Hunter sentenced Woods to 364 days in jail on each of the sex charges, but suspended all but 30 days on each count. Woods also was sentenced to 30 days in jail and $300 in fines on the assault charges. The sentences are to be served concurrently, which means Woods will serve just 30 days all together in the Aroostook County Jail.
He also was ordered to serve 1 year of probation, the first 60 days of which will be spent under house arrest, and he will only be allowed to leave home for medical and legal appointments. He also was ordered to perform 500 hours of community service, undergo counseling and have no contact with the victims. Woods must report to jail on Aug. 1.