WEST BATH — The former leader of a youth theater group who was charged in September with sexually abusing underage girls he met through the program pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 16 counts stemming from the alleged incidents, including charges related to two new alleged victims.

Henry Eichman, 56, initially faced six counts after at least three girls who participated in the Midcoast Youth Theater program told police that Eichman had touched them or secretly filmed them during pool parties or sleepovers at his Topsham home, where he sometimes made the children sleep in oversized T-shirts without underwear.

In December, a Sagadahoc County grand jury indicted Eichman on seven counts of unlawful sexual contact, six counts of unlawful sexual touching, and three counts of visual sexual aggression against a child. All are felonies and allegedly occurred between April 2013 and August 2016.

Eichman, bearded and wearing a tan shirt and suspenders, entered his plea before Judge Paul D. Mathews with his court-appointed attorney, Randall Bates, at his side.

When Eichman was arrested in September, Topsham police filed an affidavit alleging his abuse of the children, but no similar records were filed this week to explain the addition of 10 counts and two new victims.

Both Eichman and his attorney declined to comment after the arraignment.

Eichman is free on $5,000 cash bail, and the judge did not change the conditions of his release, except to add three new names to the list of people with whom Eichman is barred from having contact.

All three are children between the ages of 10 and 12, and two are named in the indictment as alleged victims. He had previously been barred from contacting seven people, including four children, as well as anyone under the age of 16.


In December, however, a judge granted Eichman a modification to those terms to allow him to see his grandchildren and great-grandchildren as long as the visits are supervised by the children’s parents, and they do not live with him or spend overnights at his home.

The judge also has ordered him to stay away from the Midcoast Presbyterian Church, any function of the Midcoast Youth Theater program, and any school property.

When he was arrested in September and his Topsham home searched, the charges stunned the community of families involved in Midcoast Youth Theater. Hundreds of adults and children help produce, direct and put on multiple shows each year.

In September, the group’s board chairwoman, Julie Meyer, issued a statement saying the board was “deeply pained” by the allegations. Parents of children involved in the program also held a closed-door meeting at that time to discuss their concerns.

Eichman helped found the group in 2003, although his involvement in steering the theatrical outlet had waned in recent years, Meyers said previously. His name and photograph, which had figured prominently in previous versions of an online account of the group’s history, have been stricken from the group’s website. “In keeping with Mr. Eichman’s original focus, we have a role for all participants who audition,” the prior version said. “We choose popular musicals with expandable ensembles. Many participants return again and again, gaining experience, skill and sustaining a warm, welcoming multigenerational community.”


Shortly after his arrest, a member of the group’s board said it had not in the past conducted background checks of adults involved with the program because all of the staff members were employees of various schools that are required by law to perform background checks.

Eichman was no exception. Before his arrest, he had been a part-time theater teacher at St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick since 2008 and helped out with an after-school program, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland said.

State records indicate that Eichman has no prior criminal record in Maine, and the diocese has said previously that it had conducted regular background checks on him.

The latest was with the state Department of Health and Human Services in July 2016, and a nationwide background check was done in 2013. Diocesan employees are subject to a nationwide check every five years, a spokesman said.

“We understood that all of our directors worked in school systems and assumed that background checks had been done,” Meyers said. “But that’s not to say that our eyes have not been opened and we will certainly do that in the future.”

In the affidavit disclosed in September, police describe multiple incidents of abuse that spanned two years and were first reported to police by a parent last Aug. 18.


In interviews with police officers, the victims described multiple incidents in which Eichman either touched them inappropriately or secretly took photographs and video of them at his home on Pleasant Street in Topsham.

During pool parties, the children alleged that Eichman did not want them tracking water into his apartment to use the bathroom, so he set up a bucket outside for them to use instead. While using the outdoor bucket, one child described seeing a “video camera thing” with a blinking red light that was recording her, the affidavit said.

The other incidents involve multiple sleepovers at Eichman’s home.

One child allegedly saw two other children sleeping in Eichman’s bed with him, and that he was “moving up and down” on top of one of them, the affidavit said.

On another occasion last winter, Eichman made the children sleep on his living room floor and did not allow them to wear underwear. Eichman slept on a couch nearby. One girl said she woke up at night to use the bathroom and discovered Eichman was “fake sleeping,” and that he had a camera he was using to take photos of the other children as they slept.

Eichman also is accused of fondling one girl under her clothing as she sat on his lap to use a computer.

After Eichman’s arrest, the home he owns on Pleasant Street in Topsham was deemed unsafe for occupancy by the fire department until repairs were made, according to court records. He was subsequently arrested for failing to update the court on his current address and was charged with violating the conditions of his release, a misdemeanor.

He is due back in court March 8.


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