Orono man pleads guilty to 15 of 135 sex abuse charges involving 4 victims

Posted July 29, 2014, at 7:14 p.m.
Wyatt Higgins-Tripp
Wyatt Higgins-Tripp

BANGOR, Maine — An Orono man pleaded guilty Tuesday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to multiple charges in connection with the sexual abuse of five boys between 2004 and 2012.

Wyatt Higgins-Tripp, 40, pleaded guilty to 15 of the 135 charges on which he was indicted. In a plea agreement with the Penobscot County district attorney’s office, the remaining 120 counts are to be dismissed when he is sentenced.

Superior Court Justice William Anderson was expected to sentence Higgins-Tripp after he entered his guilty pleas. Anderson announced shortly after 4 p.m. that he would sentence Higgins-Tripp at a later date because he “wanted to think about what sentence to impose.”

Alice Clifford, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County, recommended a sentence of 25 years with all but 10 years suspended and 25 years of probation.

Defense attorney Robert Van Horn of Ellsworth urged Anderson to put his client behind bars for 59 months rather than a decade, so the defendant could be immediately sent to the Maine Correctional Center in Windham and begin sex offender treatment through a program there. Van Horn agreed with the underlying 25-year sentence and the term of probation.

Higgins-Tripp apologized Thursday to his victims, a male relative and four of his friends who often stayed overnight, and asked for treatment.

Two of his victims, now teenagers, urged Anderson to impose a harsh sentence.

Higgins-Tripp was indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury in June 2013 on 36 counts of gross sexual assault, 48 counts of unlawful sexual contact and 10 counts of sexual abuse of a minor. At that time, police said he sexually abused a young male relative for more than eight years.

In February 2014, the Penobscot County grand jury indicted Tripp on six counts of gross sexual assault, 25 counts of sexual abuse of a minor, and 10 counts of unlawful sexual contact involving the four additional victims.

Higgins-Tripp has been held at the Penobscot County Jail since April 10, 2013, unable to make bail set at $20,000 cash.

He faces up to 30 years in prison on the most serious charges of gross sexual assault.

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.

 

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