May 19, 2019
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Prosecutors say rehab, not punishment, is top goal for Maine kids accused of felony arson

Tammy Wells | Journal Tribune
Tammy Wells | Journal Tribune
The three boys charged with arson in connection with the Stenton Trust mill fire June 23 will undergo evaluations before their next court appearances in October, a judge said during their appearances on Thursday.

The three boys — a 12-year-old and two 13-year-olds — charged with Class A felony arson in connection with the Stenton Trust mill fire on River Street in Sanford on June 23 will undergo risk assessment and mental health evaluations before their next court date.

By then, a resolution could have been reached. Assistant District Attorney Tonya Pierson said she and the attorneys representing the boys will attempt to negotiate a disposition of the case by their next court appearance.

The boys, all of Sanford, appeared individually at Biddeford District Court earlier today, when their cases were continued until October. Two of the boys will appear for a disposition hearing Oct. 12, the third on Oct. 26.

Pierson told reporters following the brief appearances that the first goal of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation.

“Punishment is the last criteria,” she said.

All three boys are on house arrest as part of their release from Long Creek Youth Development Center on July 5, which means they must be supervised by a parent or guardian at all times and are not allowed privileges such as having friends visit, said Pierson following the boys’ appearance.

She said their their Juvenile Community Corrections Officer could at some point modify their house arrest and impose a curfew instead.

The boys appeared before Judge Daniel Driscoll.

“Good morning,” said Driscoll, before his hearing started, smiling down from the bench at one of the boys. “Breathe,” he told the youngster.

Attorney Cory McKenna, representing one of the boys, told Driscoll that the teen is doing well.

“He’s been doing excellent,” said McKenna.” He’s following all the house rules and is on a positive track.”

Pierson said two of the boys are in the custody of their parents, the third with grandparents. All, she said, have intensive home services, both for the juveniles and their parents or guardians, including case management, what she described as multi-systemic therapy, counseling and more.

Their family members and some of those providing therapy or services were in court for the boys’ appearances.

The court has released the the boys’ names because they are charged with a felony. The Journal Tribune has chosen not to name them because of their ages.

Fire roared through the rear tower of the vacant five-story former textile mill on River Street known locally as Stenton Trust, erupting just before 7 p.m. on June 23.

It quickly spread throughout the rear tower of the building and raged on through the night. Firefighters from 26 communities fought the blaze.

City Manager Steve Buck said initial estimates show demolition costs at about $1.5 million.

The boys were taken into custody June 25 and remained at Long Creek Youth Development Center until their detention hearing July 5.


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