AUGUSTA — Money the state put into a trust account for the surviving sister of Logan Marr, the 5-year-old girl who died at the hands of her foster mother, is now being used for college.

Bailey Charest, 18, is a senior at Lewiston High School, where she is an honor student, a member of the National Honor Society and a captain of the swim team. She got a judge’s OK this week to use most of the $173,000 funding to go to Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she will study marine biology and environmental science to enable her to work in coastal conservation.

Charest wrote an emotional college essay about the loss of her sister – saying that Logan is her inspiration – in gaining entrance to Eckerd College.

“As much as I would love to feel her touch, I know she is in a place with no pain or suffering,” Charest wrote in her essay. “She is the reason I wake up every day ready to fill my own shoes while attempting to fill a pair for her.”

The money for Charest was part of a settlement that ended a lawsuit brought by Christy Reposa, the girls’ mother, against the state. Reposa, now Christy Darling, sued to recover damages as the result of Logan’s death on Jan. 31, 2001.

Logan and Bailey had been taken away from Darling – then known as Christy M. Baker – and placed in a series of foster homes before being moved to Sally Ann Schofield’s home in Chelsea. Schofield was a supervisor in the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and the placement violated state rules.

Coincidentally, Schofield, now 55, who was convicted of reckless or criminally negligent manslaughter in the suffocation death of Logan, was released from prison on April 25.

She had been sentenced to an initial 17 years in prison, with three years suspended, and four years’ probation. With good time and other credits, Schofield spent about 15 years behind bars. She now lives in Thorndike.

Charest, of Lewiston, is looking forward to her June 9 high school graduation and going to Eckerd.

While she is grateful that the money will allow her to attend the college of her choice, she said, “I would 100 times over replace every cent for my sister.”

The trust fund was made possible by 2003 legislation introduced by then-state Rep. Stavros Mendros, R-Lewiston. It allowed Logan’s mother to sue DHHS for civil damages up to $400,000 for Logan’s death while she was in the department’s custody.

It specified the proceeds had to be deposited with a third-party trustee and could be used “for post-secondary educational expenses for a sibling of Logan Marr.” Otherwise, the money had to go to the state’s Victims Compensation Fund to pay claims based on a crime against a child.

The actual settlement amount was $221,849, with $48,529 going to Clifton Fuller, the attorney who represented Darling in both the state and federal lawsuits.

The remaining $173,320 was designated for Logan’s sister, with a condition requiring that she begin post-secondary education by the time she turns 28.

Charest had to get a judge’s approval to spend the money for college. Part of the documentation she submitted includes the college’s offer of a $21,000 annual merit scholarship.

Superior Court Justice William Stokes, who was one of the prosecutors at Schofield’s nonjury trial, signed the order Wednesday in Augusta, indicating that Camden National Bank can disburse money for tuition and living expenses for Charest, with the course fees sent directly to the college. It requires her to maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average as well.

The state, through Assistant Attorney General Susan Herman, signed off as well.

Charest was 2 years old when her sister suffocated, wrapped in more than 42 feet of duct tape, some of it covering her mouth. The girl was bound to a highchair and left alone in an unfinished area of the basement of Schofield’s home.

“The only memory I have of her is her last day of life,” Charest said Friday. “I have flashbacks; I’ve had them since I was young. I remember her getting dragged down to the basement, and I remember her crying and the light flickering because of a snowstorm.”

In her college essay, she describes her recurring nightmare, hearing “a blood-curdling scream” coming from a small, dark-haired girl, and a woman’s voice saying, “Stop this now; I cannot handle this any more!”

Charest says she’s sitting nearby on a rug and trying to remain unnoticed as the woman leads the sobbing child to the basement.

“All is quiet at first, then a violent scream starts. It is heart-wrenching. Finally, the saddest sound. … I hear the little girl’s voice for the last time, and it is the word ‘help.'”

Charest writes of the aftermath as well, the national spotlight that Logan’s death brought to the state and the re-examination of the state’s child placement policies.

“Being the survivor of this horrid incident, I push myself to my limits and strive for excellence in everything for the both of us.”

Charest excels in her schoolwork, in her swimming – “I swim backstroke and went to (the state championship meet) three years out of the four” – and in work.

She holds a part-time job in retail and has lived on her own since last summer.

Before that, she had lived with her father, Richard Charest, and her brother.

“I’m just a driven person and just try to take everything one step at a time and focus on my schoolwork, my job and the future,” Charest said. “The fact that my sister gave me this ability to do something great, I don’t want to take it for granted. If anything, this is a way for her memory to live on.”

Charest settled on her ocean study career path just recently.

“I love the ocean,” she said. “I’ve wanted to do it since I was 4 years old. I had changed my mind a couple times, and this past summer I actually went back to it and it just stuck.”

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

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Twitter: betadams