A stalking charge against a former Ogunquit Select Board member will be dismissed in a year if he does not engage in new criminal conduct.

David Barton, 78, was charged with stalking this year after allegedly sending anonymous letters to members of the Ogunquit Planning Board. The incident came in the midst of intense political turmoil in the smallest town in York County. Three of the five members of the Ogunquit Select Board were facing a possible recall election at the time, and a group of residents had sued the town over the recall process. Those officials ultimately kept their seats in a close May vote.

The pending charge was a Class C crime, which is a felony. The York County District Attorney’s Office dismissed that charge this month and replaced it with Class D stalking, which is a misdemeanor. The parties agreed to file that case for a year, and if Barton follows certain conditions and does not engage in new criminal conduct, the stalking charge will be dismissed.

Barton agreed to not have any contact with the people who received letters: Planning Board Chairman Steve Wilkos, Vice Chairman Mark MacLeod and former member Rusty Hayes. He also agreed to write an apology letter to be read aloud at meetings of the planning and select boards.

Wilkos read that apology at Monday’s meeting.

“Please understand I now know I was shortsighted in my actions earlier this year,” Barton wrote. “Given the opportunity to reflect back on my actions, it is clear I owe you my sincere apology. The anxiety or fear I obviously projected upon you was an unforeseen consequence of my misdirected, careless response to conditions at the time.”

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He also said he intended to comply with the conditions.

“Please understand what happened was wrong and hurtful, and I know it. My goal is to seek redemption and fully comply with the penalties and restrictions I have agreed to with the District Attorney’s Office. If I can put this matter behind me, I will be grateful.”

Barton has not entered a guilty plea or admitted in court to any criminal conduct. If he does violate those conditions, the York County District Attorney’s Office would reopen the case and continue prosecution. Defense attorney Ed Folsom said he did not have any additional comment.

Wilkos also read a statement about the case at the meeting. He said the three targets felt concerned for their safety when they received the letters and considered canceling an upcoming meeting. They agreed any penalty should not include jail time but wanted the person responsible to make a public apology.

“It is my opinion that no member of a town board or committee should ever be subjected to what we were subjected to,” Wilkos said.

The letters have not been made public and are not part of the court file, but Wilkos described them in his statement. He received an anonymous postcard with a reference to a “Godfather” movie. MacLeod received a letter containing a newspaper article about a missing teenager. Hayes received two blank pieces of paper, which he said he worried contained the poison ricin.

In interviews Tuesday, Wilkos and Hayes said they want to talk to their representatives about a stricter penalty for people who threaten or harass the members of town boards and committees. Hayes suggested that the punishment involve a fine, community service or counseling.

“I’m sure that this is not something new for cities and towns across the state, so there needs to be a better punishment,” Hayes said.

Barton is a former member of the Ogunquit Select Board. He lost his 2016 re-election campaign.


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