In a reversal, Hallowell city councilors voted Monday to accept $15,000 from Thomaston to help cover training costs for the officer who accused Police Chief Eric Nason of sexual assault in 2013.

The agreement between City Manager Michael Starn and Thomaston is intended to reimburse Hallowell for the costs of putting the officer through the Maine Criminal Justice Academy’s 18-week training program for new police officers. It’s about $5,000 less than the city says it paid to train her, which has drawn criticism from opponents on the council.

Thomaston hired the officer last month and she starts patrolling on Thursday, according Chief Kevin Haj.

In May, the Hallowell City Council voted 4-3 to reject the same deal, but it was brought back up for a vote at Councilor Lynn Irish’s request Monday and passed 5-2 after Irish and Mark Sullivan changed their positions to vote for it.

“I think it was the right decision,” Starn said.

Nason was investigated by the Maine State Police in 2013 after the officer said she was too drunk to consent to sex with him at his West Gardiner camp. The chief denied the allegation and a Maine State Police investigation ended with no charges filed against him. The officer was hired full time in Hallowell around that time.

The Kennebec Journal hasn’t named the officer, now 24, because she alleged she was a victim of a sexual assault crime.

She was hired by Thomaston in May, just before she graduated from the police academy — a rare occurrence. The academy’s director has said it’s happened only seven or eight times in his 12-year tenure.

More often, police agencies send officers to the academy who are hired by other departments after graduation. State law and academy trustees set rates at which the hiring agency should reimburse the sending agency for training costs. That scale starts at $30,000 in the year after graduation and decreases in subsequent years, but it doesn’t apply when officers are hired before graduating.

Starn has estimated that Hallowell paid $20,300 in salary, benefits, tuition and overtime pay to cover shifts and other costs for the officer’s time at the academy, but he said he negotiated the settlement without putting together that information. Still, he said, “I don’t feel that was a bad negotiation.”

But Councilors Phillip Lindley and Alan Stearns, who have been critical of Starn’s handling of the Nason case and voted against the chief’s reappointment in January, voted against the reimbursement deal. Lindley said the city didn’t do enough to get all that it spent.

“I still don’t get it. I don’t agree with it,” he said. “It’s giving money away.”

In the first vote, Irish said she “misunderstood the way it was presented last time” and thought wrongly that Hallowell was forgoing the full $30,000. Sullivan said he had “a fairly good grip on that,” but he didn’t have enough information to vote for it then.

Both said they were comfortable with the agreement after learning more about it and said they didn’t consider it a giveaway.

“The important thing is that we secure the funds from Thomaston that are due us,” Sullivan said.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

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Twitter: @mikeshepherdme