BIDDEFORD, Maine — The third boy charged with arson in connection with the June 23 Stenton Trust mill fire in Sanford admitted to criminal mischief during a court appearance Thursday — as the two other boys involved did last month.
On Thursday, during the brief public portion of the proceeding, Maine District Court Judge Michael Duddy ordered the felony arson charge against the boy to be continued until his next court appearance, set for Feb. 15.
Assistant District Attorney Tanya Pierson and defense attorney Edwin “Ned” Chester said the resolution, which will see the boy serve one year probation, undergo counseling and abide by a host of other conditions, is a good one.
“Juvenile court is about holding kids accountable,” said Chester. “Public safety is about having healthy, productive kids.”
“The juvenile code’s primary focus is on rehabilitation as well as accountability — ensuring they are getting adequate services, and treatment, so they don’t come back,” said Pierson. “We all benefit from that.”
In general terms, conditions may include constant supervision, counseling for the boys and their parents or guardians and could include involvement in the restorative justice process, she said.
One of the boys was 12, the other two were 13 when fire swept through the long vacant mill building.
The boys were taken into custody on June 25 and remained at Long Creek Youth Development Center until a detention hearing July 5 when they were released to the custody of their parents.
Pierson said very few children their age spend time at Long Creek.
“They’re getting the maximum supervision they can get,” she said.
Pierson said all three boys have done well.
“This is an amazing positive outcome to a very bad circumstance,” said Pierson. “They are all in a better place and better environment and are doing really, really well on very strict conditions.”
“This is the juvenile system at its best,” said Chester. “This is a success for the community.”
Fire consumed the rear tower of the vacant five-story former textile mill on River Street, known locally as Stenton Trust Mill, erupting just before 7 p.m. on June 23
It quickly spread and raged on through the night. Firefighters from 26 communities fought the blaze.
Sanford officials are facing the prospect of demolishing the structure and are looking to federal environmental officials to help.
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