ELLSWORTH, Maine - A Blue Hill man and former child mentor whose sexual misconduct spurred an active community support group in western Hancock County pleaded guilty last Friday to misdemeanor charges and will spend a month in jail.
The real punishment for Howard Evans, though, is that he must register as a sex offender for the next 10 years. The 65-year-old’ s plea agreement also includes a promise that he never be allowed to teach, mentor or supervise children under age 18.
“Everyone involved in this case knew it was difficult to prosecute, but the important outcome is that his plea of guilty officially outed him [as a sex offender],” Hancock County District Attorney Michael Povich said Tuesday.
Evans, a former mentor and advisor at the now-defunct Liberty School in Blue Hill, entered the public spotlight last spring when a civil lawsuit was filed in Hancock County Superior Court. The suit, which also named his wife, Vicki Pollard, alleged that Evans abused a 10-year-old boy in his home in 1994. The matter was settled out of court and the details were not disclosed.
Last June, another civil suit was filed claiming Evans sexually abused a teenage boy several times between 2005 and 2006. That suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money.
While Evans’ name was being tossed around in civil lawsuits, he had yet to be charged with any crimes. That fact didn’ t prevent the Blue Hill community from forming a support group, “Breaking the Silence,” that met regularly in the basement of a local church to talk about the impact of Evans’ alleged misconduct.
According to a previously published story in the Bangor Daily News, as many as 30 people have attended sessions to talk about the effects of Evans’ relationship with some of the town’s children.
In addition to his affiliation with the Liberty School, Evans was once director of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and was an active participant at town meetings, on local boards and at school events. Evans and his wife were acupuncturists and massage therapists in the community for many years and were well-respected as healers.
Povich said his office pushed for felony charges against Evans involving the teenager, but the age of the victim and the circumstances of the case made that difficult.
“Still, we felt it was important enough to charge him, even if it was just misdemeanors,” he said.
Evans eventually was charged in Ellsworth District Court with two counts of simple assault and one count of unlawful sexual contact, all Class D misdemeanors. He initially pleaded not guilty to the charges in March but changed his plea last Friday and was sentenced.
The criminal charges involve the same victim who had filed the second civil suit against Evans, according to prosecutors.
Ron Schneider, a Portland attorney who represented the young man in the first civil suit against Evans, said the sentencing, particularly the promise that Evans not teach or mentor children, was a good result.
“It is an important promise for the community to be aware of, and we worked hard to obtain it,” Schneider said.
Evans will spend 30 days at Hancock County Jail followed by one year of probation. Because his crimes were misdemeanors, he is required to register as a sex offender for 10 years rather than for life.