AUGUSTA — Christopher Knight will enter a special court that will allow him into the community and to get counseling for an alcohol problem, Kennebec County’s district attorney said Friday.
The Co-Occurring Disorders Court has voted to accept Knight, known as the North Pond Hermit, into the program, where he will work and get counseling. Knight lived in the Rome woods for 27 years without human contact and stole from camps to survive.
After he enters the court officially on Wednesday, he will live in the community, supervised by court officials, and he will be able to work and will get counseling for alcohol issues, said his attorney, Walter McKee.
District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said he has a job nearly lined up, but she wouldn’t say where.
McKee wouldn’t disclose details of Knight’s living and work situations, the final details of which are being ironed out.
Maloney, in an interview, stopped short of calling Knight, 47, an alcoholic.
At the time of his arrest in April, employees of Pine Tree Camp said Knight would often steal certain types of beer, but not others. For example, he’d skip Bud Light and Miller Lite, but take Budweiser.
To get into the court, those accused of crimes must have either a documented substance abuse disorder and mental illness, according to a pamphlet on the court. McKee and Maloney agreed to send Knight to the court.
“Alcohol was stolen at several crime scenes and he has identified alcohol as something that was a part of his life,” Maloney said.
In August, Knight pleaded not guilty to seven burglaries and six thefts in two counties. He has been in jail on $25,000 bail since his April 4 arrest. At the time, Maloney and McKee said they were working on an agreement to avoid a trial, which was set for October.
Maloney said in a news release a portion of Knight’s sentence will be served with “intense community supervision,” and completing a sentence in the program typically takes one to three years. If Knight isn’t successful, he will get an automatic prison sentence, she said.
Maloney said because Knight was cut off from human contact for so long, the court would be especially helpful for him, because it is “committed to helping those who are released from prison to reintegrate into society.”
In April, Deborah Baker of Norridgewock, who has a camp on North Pond in Mercer, told the Kennebec Journal that she started losing bags of groceries to a burglar beginning in 1993.
It continued after that. Food, sleeping bags, books and even cough drops disappeared.
She tracked the behavior of the thief, who she called “the hungry man.” He would come only before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, only on cloudy nights. In 2002, she caught the thief on camera, but state police couldn’t identify the perpetrator.
On Friday, Baker said while she feels better with Knight in custody, she won’t dispute the conditions Maloney and McKee agreed to.
“I’m not a vindictive person,” she said. “I trust the court will do what’s right for him.”