WEST BATH, Maine — The founder of the Midcoast Youth Theater charged in September 2016 with six counts of unlawful sexual contact and sexual exploitation of children pleaded not guilty Tuesday to those allegations, as well as 10 additional charges alleging similar conduct against two others.
Henry A. Eichman, 56, now of New Gloucester, was indicted by the Sagadahoc County grand jury in December on 16 counts, including seven counts of Class B felony unlawful sexual contact, three counts of Class C felony visual sexual aggression against a child under 12, and six misdemeanor counts of unlawful sexual touching, according to court documents.
The crimes took place between April 2013 and July 2016, according to the indictment.
Eichman, who also taught drama at St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick, was arrested in September after three young girls, all members of the Midcoast Youth Theater, told police that the incidents occurred during sleepovers at Eichman’s Topsham home, WCSH reported.
He was released on $5,000 bail and barred from the Midcoast Presbyterian Church grounds in Topsham and from attending any Midcoast Youth Theater productions.
Three months later, his bail conditions were amended to allow Eichman supervised visits with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren as long as they do not spend the night.
The charge of visual sexual aggression against a child alleges visual surveillance, with or without recording devices, of children’s genitals.
Eichman has no prior criminal record, according to state records.
In 2003, Eichman founded the Midcoast Youth Theater that grew in the next decade to involve hundreds of families in the midcoast region, according to its website.
At the time of his arrest, a spokeswoman for Midcoast Youth Theater said Eichman’s contract with the theater had ended in July 2016 and that it was “very unlikely” the alleged crimes would have occurred during a show or rehearsal because adults are always present.
He had been employed at St. John’s Catholic School as a part-time drama teacher and a substitute teacher since 2008, and he worked at an after-school program for a time. At the time of his arrest, he was suspended from that job and barred from the campus, according to a spokesman for the school, All Saints Parish, and the Portland Diocese.
His next court appearance is scheduled for March 8.