AUGUSTA — The Kennebec County district attorney charged former Waterville Senior High School Principal Don Reiter with a misdemeanor Thursday, saying he asked an 18-year-old student for sex on Aug. 27.

The charge of official oppression, a class E misdemeanor, is punishable by up to six months in the county jail, but most people charged with class E crimes are ordered to pay a fine, District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said at a news conference on the steps of the county courthouse.

Official oppression “is a crime that holds public officials accountable for misuse of their office,” she said.

Augusta attorney Walter McKee, who is representing Reiter in the criminal matter, released a written statement after the news conference that said Maloney’s case against his client “has more issues than National Geographic.”

“The facts are disputed, the law doesn’t fit and there are huge evidentiary problems for the state,” McKee said in an email. “The crime of official oppression is an anti-corruption statute. Trying to apply it here is a huge stretch, and I am being very generous.”

Maloney said the official-oppression statute holds public officials and those in positions of trust to a higher standard, and that the charge “fits the scenario perfectly, because he was a public official” and “people put an enormous amount of trust in (public officials).”

She said she would have charged Reiter with attempted gross sexual assault if the victim had been under 18. The general age of sexual consent in Maine is 16, but it’s against Maine law for an educator to have sexual contact with a student under 18.

Maloney, who served as a state representative for two years before becoming district attorney in 2013, suggested the Legislature should “take another look” at the gross sexual assault statute concerning educators because “the same power dynamic applies whether the student is 17 or 18.”

“I’m not sure why the Legislature made that cutoff,” she said.


Reiter was fired Monday by the Waterville Board of Education nearly six weeks after Superintendent Eric Haley recommended he be dismissed. Reiter had been on administrative leave since Sept. 1 while the school department investigated an allegation that he had propositioned a student on the first day of school, calling her into his office and saying he chooses a student to have sex with every year “and this year I’ve picked you.”

Reiter allegedly told the student that no one had ever turned him down before, and as she tried to leave his office, he told her she would not graduate from school.

During hearings before the school board, Reiter’s attorney, Gregg Frame, said the student was not on track to graduate and Reiter was trying to help her. Frame said the student made an advance on Reiter.

Assistant Principal Brian Laramee has been filling in since Reiter was put on leave, and Haley said he plans to address the position during a school board meeting Nov. 2.

At the news conference, Maloney said the 18-year-old student was “saddened” to learn that former students at Mascenic Regional High School in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, also allege they were victimized by Reiter when he worked there from 1998 to 2004.

One former student in New Hampshire told Waterville police last week that she had a sexual relationship with Reiter just before or after she graduated. Another said she had an inappropriate relationship with him when she was 17, and he sent her 147 pages of letters in which he professed his love for her, referring to their “taboo” relationship.


Maloney said she has received copies of those letters from Waterville police, but has not been in touch with officials in New Hampshire.

The allegations from former New Hampshire students did not play a role in the decision to charge Reiter, Maloney said. “I had already decided a crime had been committed,” she said.

But she waited to announce the charge until after the school board announced its decision because she didn’t want to interfere with the board’s process, she said.

Maloney plans to ask the judge to admit the letters and other information from the New Hampshire allegations as evidence in the trial because she thinks they illustrate planning and motive.

Jim Burke, clinical professor of law at the University of Maine School of Law, said he had not heard of the official suppression charge being used in Maine before, and “I’m fairly comfortable saying it’s not used too often.”

In response to a question about the strength of the evidence in the case, Maloney said whenever a case involves sexual assault or domestic violence, it’s often going to be a he said-she said.

“You have to decide who to believe,” she said. “If I believe the victim in a case, I bring this case forward.”

Maloney said she can’t provide details about the case before it goes to a jury trial, which she thinks could occur as early as next summer.

Much of the audience at the school board hearings, many of them teachers, vocally supported Reiter, at one point giving him a standing ovation.