The story of 10 Cape Elizabeth seniors who vandalized the high school in March took another strange turn last week when one of them, James Bump, was accused of violating his behavior contract less than a week after signing it.

Bump, 19, was not named by police or the district attorney’s office as the student who violated the contract. In fact, neither the police nor district attorney have identified any of the students. Bump, however, was seen entering and exiting school disciplinary hearings on the vandalism.

Bump was found to have been consuming alcohol after being pulled over in the early morning hours of June 10, according to police records. He is also facing a hearing Friday in connection with a protection from harassment order requested from the court by a former girlfriend after she says he appeared uninvited in her bedroom that same day.

Although District Attorney Stephanie Anderson had previously said she would bring charges against any of the students who violated the behavior contract, a spokeswoman for her office said this week she was reviewing the case.

The contract violation is a bizarre outcome of what is, at the very least, an unorthodox way to respond to the vandalism. Saying she had “seen a lot worse,” Anderson announced earlier this month she would not seek criminal charges for the students, who have come to be known as the “Cape 10.” Instead, she offered the unnamed students behavior contracts that would prohibit them from using alcohol, drugs and illegal activities and force them to pay approximately $1,400 each in restitution.

This story has understandably been a sensitive one for many people in Cape Elizabeth, and has generated a lot of debate inside and out of the community. This resolution seemed to be a compromise between those who feel these teens are good kids who don’t deserve to have their futures jeopardized and those who feel they are getting special treatment because they are from Cape Elizabeth.

Despite all the debate, the decision about whether to bring charges should really come down to one simple question: Did they break the law or not? If they did, charge them. Or, if the district attorney feels as though the actions of these students didn’t amount to anything criminal, then don’t and don’t bother with the behavior contracts.

Another story that appears on page 2 this week, “Teens charged in Cape burglary,” seems to stand in stark contrast to the vandalism that occurred at Cape High School several months ago. Matthew Carl Braun, 18, of 34 Hunts Point Road; Oryan Lahti, 19, of Lincoln St., Hallowell; and Andrew Blumenthal, 19, of 10 Jordan Farm Road, have all been charged with burglary, after police say they caught them breaking into an unoccupied house on Salt Spray Lane.

There’s been no talk about whether the futures of these young men, who are all about the same age, will be ruined. They have all been arrested and named. If they are ultimately convicted of the crimes for which they’ve been accused, their behavior contract will come in the same form as everyone else’s – probation conditions.

Brendan Moran, editor

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