PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s highest court has vacated the 28-year sentence of a former music teacher from Blue Hill who was convicted of molesting five of his young female students over a period of about six years.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled on Tuesday that the justice in 2010 misapplied a three-step analysis in determining the sentence for Theodore S. Stanislaw, 52, and sent the case back to Superior Court for resentencing.
Stanislaw entered nine guilty pleas in Hancock County Superior Court in 2010 on the charges for sexually molesting five girls between the ages of 10 and 14 years old.
The incidents took place between 2002 and 2008. Previous reports indicate that Stanislaw either gave music lessons to or was family friends with the victims in the case and that some of the offenses had taken place at Stanislaw’s home while he was giving voice or piano lessons or while one of the victims was helping him look after his young son. Other incidents took place at a local church during music lessons and some occurred in his car.
Stanislaw also had a previous conviction in 1982 in New York state for sexually molesting a girl who was younger than 11 years old.
In January 2010, Superior Court Justice Kevin Cuddy sentenced Stanislaw to nine years in prison for each of the three Class B counts of unlawful sexual contact, according to previous reports. The sentences were to be served consecutively for a total of 27 years in prison.
Justice Cuddy also sentenced Stanislaw to three years in prison with all but two years suspended on one Class C count of unlawful sexual contact, for a total of 30 years with two of those years suspended. He also was ordered to serve concurrent 30-day sentences on four counts of assault and one count of unlawful sexual touching. The result was that Stanislaw would spend 28 years in prison.
At the time, prosecutor Mary Kellett of the Hancock County District Attorney’s Office said the sentence was “appropriate” for a repeat sex offender such as Stanislaw.
“It took a while for things to come out because this guy was so well-trusted,” Kellett said at the time of the sentencing. “He was friends with their parents. The amount of harm this guy caused is huge.”
Neither Kellett nor Hancock County District Attorney Carletta Bassano was available for comment on Tuesday.
In his appeal, Stanislaw claimed that the Superior Court had erred in applying the mandated three-step sentencing analysis, that it had abused its discretion by imposing consecutive sentences and that the overall sentence was excessive.
The Supreme Court justices considered only the first point of Stanislaw’s appeal and, in a unanimous decision, agreed that the judge erred by not articulating why Stanislaw was given a sentence near the maximum allowed.
The justices noted that the first step of the sentencing procedure requires the court to consider and explain where the specific crime falls within the range of all possible ways to commit the crime.
“When the sentencing court misapplies or avoids this important step, however, as the court did here, it is left without a foundation on which to build an appropriate sentence,” they wrote.
“Because the record does not demonstrate that the court objectively considered the nature and seriousness of the unlawful sexual contact offense in determining the basic period of incarcerations, we vacate these sentences and remand for resentencing.”
The case will go back to the Superior Court where Stanislaw will be sentenced again. He will remain in prison while awaiting resentencing.
Bangor Daily News writer Rich Hewitt and The Associated Press contributed to this report.