HOWLAND, Maine — A local contractor who abruptly closed his business despite having collected thousands of dollars in deposits for natural gas connections in southern Maine, lost his appeal of a protection from abuse order involving a child he is accused of molesting in 2012.
David C. Ireland Jr. said he closed Dave Ireland Builders of Howland on Nov. 18 because “I am broke, out of money.”
He said the closure of his business was unrelated to his legal fight, which involved a child related to him.
“I am not going anywhere. Rumors abound that I am in jail or in another country. I am still here trying to figure out how we can put the pieces together,” Ireland said Tuesday, speaking by telephone from outside the offices of the Eaton Peabody law firm in Bangor. “My priority is to try to rectify the situation for our customers as soon as I possibly can.”
Ireland’s appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court contesting the admissibility of the child’s statements in civil court proceedings in Presque Isle District Court was filed on June 11. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court rejected it 5-2, according to court documents released Tuesday.
The accusation did not result in criminal charges, and on Tuesday, Ireland denied any wrongdoing, saying that the child gave contradictory testimony.
Ireland called the court decision “an unfortunate loss. It has been a very messy [court] battle, and we were hoping that we could get this thing overturned on appeal,” he said.
Ireland said he hasn’t communicated with the alleged victim for two years.
“It’s a tough situation,” he said.
The closure of Ireland’s business left “hundreds” of customers in Cumberland, Falmouth and Yarmouth who had made deposits on natural gas pipeline installations without the work being done yet, according to Jason Lamb, the business’ former plumbing and heating division manager.
Lamb said he had hooked up about 35-40 homes so far and that the deposits ranged from $1,000 to $3,500. Ireland acknowledged the unfinished work and said he didn’t know when or if his business would reopen, but he was “trying to assemble a plan” to fulfill his obligations.
“I have to let the dust settle. We have had a long track record of saving a lot of people a lot of money on heating costs. I don’t like the fact that I have customers out there who have deposits. We are not able to fulfill those orders at the moment,” Ireland said.
Cumberland’s town website has posted a public notice in conjunction with the police and the Maine attorney general’s office urging Ireland’s customers to contact them with their complaints about the closure.
Ireland said he spoke with the attorney general’s office about the situation on Monday but not Cumberland officials. Town Manager Bill Shane and officials at the attorney general’s office did not immediately return telephone messages seeking comment on Tuesday.
Summit has so far brought nearly 50 miles of natural gas piping into the three towns. From there, a pool of plumbing and heating contractors has been available for interior work needed in residents’ homes, including conversion of existing heating systems to natural gas, or installation of new systems.
Ireland was one of those contractors. The package he offered included home energy audits, conversions or new installations and air-leak sealing.
Greg Glynn of Marshall Communications, the business handling Summit’s public relations, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.