HALLOWELL — The city manager says he will reappoint Police Chief Eric Nason to his position even after reprimanding the chief following two sexual misconduct allegations revealed this year.

The City Council will consider City Manager Michael Starn’s decision at its January meeting, when it will vote on whether to ratify Nason’s annual nomination and others.

Councilors were mostly hesitant Wednesday to discuss Starn’s decision aside from one who supports Nason, saying “he’s served this city well for a long time.”

This year, two past allegations against Nason became public with one involving a police officer under his command. In September, Starn reprimanded Nason for “lack of judgment” in those cases.

Starn said Wednesday that he will reappoint Nason, 49, after “looking at his entire career,” which includes more than 25 years in Hallowell’s department and nearly a decade as chief.

When asked if Nason has done anything since the reprimand to increase Starn’s confidence in his ability, Starn replied, “Well, he hasn’t done anything to make me feel less confident in his ability.”


In 2013, the Maine State Police investigated a female officer’s complaint of sexual assault against Nason, made after a night of drinking at the chief’s camp in West Gardiner. Nason wasn’t charged when the case was closed in October.

That case was first reported by the Kennebec Journal in June. Through attorneys, the officer and Nason have admitted a past sexual relationship, but Nason has said the encounter that drew the allegation was consensual. The officer has maintained that she was too drunk to consent. The two still work together.

After that case was publicized, a Rome woman, now 43, told city officials that when she dated Nason in 1997, he took a pornographic picture of her as she slept.

The Kennebec Journal isn’t identifying the officer and the Rome woman because they are alleged victims of sex crimes.

The second woman’s allegation prompted the city to hire a private investigator to examine her complaint. The reprimand letter says Nason told the private eye that he saw the picture when the woman brought it to him, but he didn’t recall taking it. In the letter, Starn said Nason’s “poor choices” harmed his department’s reputation, making it hard to attract and retain good officers.

Since then, the city has banned relationships between supervisors and employees and instituted mandatory sexual harassment training. Starn and Nason said they’re in the process of hiring a police sergeant, and Starn said the city has worked to address issues that sprang from the allegations against Nason.


Nason said on Wednesday he and Starn have “always had a good relationship.” However, he said the hiring issues raised by Starn in his reprimand weren’t problems for the department now.

“I think we need to continue to respond to citizen complaints and concerns,” Nason said. “I think as long as we continue to do that, we’ll keep moving forward.”

The final decision on Nason’s appointment rests with councilors, who have already discussed modernizing Hallowell’s archaic appointment system, which splits appointment duties between the mayor and city manager. For instance, the mayor must appoint the manager and city clerk, while the manager appoints the police chief and the code enforcement officer.

All are ratified by councilors, and by Wednesday, the Rome woman had called some city councilors to lobby them not to vote to reappoint Nason. In an interview, she said, “I don’t think justice was served the way it should have been.”

Still, many councilors aren’t tipping their hands. Councilors George Lapointe and Mark Sullivan declined comment on Starn’s decision. So did Alan Stearns, who said he hadn’t heard from Starn on the subject.

“There’s certainly going to be some questions, and then we’ll see how the council wants to vote,” said Phillip Lindley, the council president, who said he hadn’t made up his mind.


But Councilor Lynn Irish of the northern Ward 2 said while she didn’t want to discuss future votes, she supports Nason at this point.

“I understand people’s concern about it, and I think it’s too bad that it all happened and it shouldn’t have happened,” she said of the incidents that drew allegations. “But he’s served this city well for a long time.”

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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