WEST BATH

A man involved in local youth theater for several years pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of sex crimes against children in West Bath District Court Tuesday.

According to court records, Henry A. Eichman, 56, formerly of Topsham, was indicted in December on seven counts of unlawful sexual contact, three counts of visual sexual aggression against a child, and six counts of unlawful sexual touching. The alleged crimes took place between April 2013 and August 2016 and court documents list six different victims under the age of 13. 

Ten of the alleged counts are crimes against children under 12, making them Class B crimes punishable by up to ten years incarceration and a $20,000 fine. The other charges are either Class C or Class D crimes punishable by up to 5 years incarceration and up to 364 days incarceration, respectively. Eichman is scheduled to appear in West Bath District Court on March 8.

Eichman, who now lives in New Gloucester, was arrested Sept. 9, 2016. At the time, Topsham Police Department executed a search warrant at his Pleasant Street home and charged him with two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor under 12, two counts of unlawful sexual contact, and two counts of violation of privacy. Eichman was taken to Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset where he posted bail Sept. 14. 

Eichman is the founder of the Midcoast Youth Theater Group, where he was described as a teacher, according to court documents.

According to an affidavit from Topsham Police Det. Mark LaFountain, four girls reportedly spent the night at Eichman’s residence on multiple occasions and attended pool parties there. The girls are or were members of the theater.

Two of the girls, both age 10, were allegedly sleeping in the same bed as Eichman. One of the other children “reported seeing this man on top of one of the 10- year-old girls and he was ‘moving up and down,’” the affidavit states.

A 10-year-old and 12-year-old girl both described a bucket Eichman allegedly kept near the swimming pool for the children to urinate in rather than using the bathroom in his apartment. One of the girls said she was being recorded while using the bucket on one occasion.

One of the girls described in the court document an occasion when they had to sleep on Eichman’s living room floor and woke to find Eichman taking pictures of the other two girls who were sleeping. Eichman allegedly made the girls sleep without underwear.

The 12-year-old girl described two occasions when she was sitting on Eichman’s lap to use a laptop computer while Eichman allegedly fondled her.

LaFountain reports that he interviewed another of the four girls, who indicated Eichman touched her in her private areas more than once.

Nine of the alleged sex offense charges levied against Eichman are in connection with two victims who weren’t  named in LaFountain’s Sept. 9 affidavit.

Eichman is not to have contact with any of the alleged victims or children under 16. Contact with grand children and great grand children is allowed if supervised by the children’s parents, but they can’t reside with him or spend the night. He is also not to be on school property and can’t return to the Mid-Coast Presbyterian Church in Topsham or attend any Midcoast Youth Theater Group functions.

Following Eichman’s arrest, Julie Meyer, the president of the board of directors for Midcoast Youth Theater, said the board was “deeply pained and concerned for everyone affected by the charges.”

“The Board trusts the judicial system to process this quickly and fairly for all involved,” she wrote in a statement. “MYT’s mission is to provide a safe and nurturing theater experience for young people which will continue to be our priority.”

Since 2008, Eichman has worked as a part-time drama teacher at St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick, according to a report in the Portland Press Herald. 

Eichman also worked for a period of time in a stipend position as a drama coach for Mt. Ararat High School’s drama club — most recently in 2011, according to School Administrative District 75 Superintendent Brad Smith. He said all employees in the district, including those holding stipend positions, are checked for criminal histories.

The investigation began after Topsham police received a referral from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services via the Sagadahoc County District Attorney’s Office. 

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