Penobscot County Treasurer and Bangor School Board member John David Hiatt was arrested Friday afternoon by Bangor police and charged with harassment and stalking of a local woman.
Hiatt, 38, allegedly has been harassing the 34-year-old woman using his cell phone and computer tablet issued to him by the Bangor School Department for use in his role as a board member. The Bangor Daily News is not identifying the woman because she is the victim of an alleged crime.
Hiatt obtained a protection order against the woman on Nov. 13, 2018, less than a week after the Republican, was elected as county treasurer and to the city school committee. It remained in place for a year.
He is charged with one count each of aggravated invasion of computer privacy, a Class C crime, stalking, a Class D crime, theft by unauthorized taking, a Class E crime, and two counts of harassment, a Class D crime.
If convicted of the felony invasion of privacy law, Hiatt faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Class D crimes carry a maximum one-year term of incarceration and a fine of up to $2,000 and the maximum sentence and fine for a Class E crime are six months in jail and $1,000.
Hiatt is also alleged to have taken over and manipulated the victim’s social media account without her permission.
Detectives began investigating a complaint from the victim on May 6, according to Sgt. Wade Betters, spokesman for the Bangor police. They executed a search warrant at Hiatt’s home that day and seized electronic devices, including a cell phone, from Hiatt’s residence. In recent days, a detective posing as the alleged victim online, began receiving numerous messages from Hiatt, Betters said.
Kathy Harris-Smedberg, interim superintendent, posted a notice on the Bangor High School Facebook page about 5:45 pm. She said that the department would cooperate with police and conduct its own investigation into the allegations.
“The Bangor School Department learned today that a Bangor School Committee member has been charged with a crime relating to use of an electronic device owned by the Bangor School Department,” she said. “School committee members are issued tablets by the school department for use in carrying out their school committee responsibilities. We expect school committee members to observe the same requirements for use of electronic devices that are required of staff, including prohibiting any use that is illegal or in violation of other school committee policies.”
Bail was set at $5,000 cash. Hiatt was released at 4:25 p.m. Saturday from the Penobscot County Jail, according to jail personnel. Information about who posted bail was not immediately available. As part of his bail conditions, Hiatt was expected to be ordered not to have contact of any kind with the alleged victim, which is standard in harassment and stalking cases.
Penobscot County District Attorney Marianne Lynch is expected to turn the prosecution of Hiatt over to a different district attorney to avoid a conflict of interest.
On May 10 Hiatt sought a protection from harassment order against the woman, but it was denied because on May 6, four days earlier, the judge had issued a search warrant for Hiatt’s home and cell phone. Hiatt agreed not to pursue the matter.
Hiatt has been open about his autism and the challenges he faces as an elected official because of it.
In his recent application for the protection order, Hiatt described himself as an adult in foster care. He said that he was fearful the woman would “abuse the court system in an attempt to embarrass and get the plaintiff fired from his job. The plaintiff is the Penobscot County treasurer, a member of the Bangor School Committee [and] autism advocate.”
He said that the woman “won’t stop tormenting the plaintiff” and accused her of calling the police twice to complain that he was at her house when he was not. Hiatt said that he, not the woman, was the victim of harassment.
Hiatt also accused the woman of sexually assaulting him on May 2 and said he’d filed a report about it with the Bangor police.
On Nov. 5, 2020, Hiatt obtained a protection from harassment order for one year against a different Bangor woman, his former fiancee.
Hiatt has announced on Facebook that he will seek a second term on the school committee and as county treasurer. In 2018 Hiatt beat incumbent Democrat Dan Tremble, who also serves on the Bangor City Council, for the treasurer’s seat.
Hiatt was a candidate in the Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District in December 2019 but dropped out after 17 days of campaigning and endorsed Dale Crafts. He also was the Republican candidate for the state Senate seat now held by Joe Baldacci but dropped out after the primary. He is a representative from Penobscot County to the state Republican Committee.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Hiatt’s relationship with the woman and who filed the order in November 2018.