WATERVILLE — An attorney for former Waterville Senior High School principal Don Reiter said he anticipates Reiter will plead not guilty to the misdemeanor charge stemming from allegations he asked a female student for sex.

Walter McKee, of Augusta, said Tuesday that he plans to file a plea in writing to the court instead of appearing in person for Reiter’s first scheduled appearance Feb. 9 in Waterville District Court.

“I anticipate a not guilty plea” to the charge of official oppression, McKee said.

Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, in conjunction with Waterville police, filed the charge against Reiter on Nov. 19 after a police investigation.

Reiter, 44, allegedly asked an 18-year-old female student for sex in his office at the high school Aug. 27, the first day of school. The charge seeks to make public officials in positions of authority accountable for misuse of office, Maloney said.

Once a plea is entered, a dispositional conference date is set, and usually that date is two months after the first court appearance, she said.

“Both sides meet with the judge and he (Reiter) has to appear in person,” she said. “The judge says what a positive resolution would be and tries to get both sides to agree. If they do not agree, it is set for trial in front of a judge or jury.”

It is up to Reiter whether to have trial by judge or jury, and most people choose a jury trial, Maloney said.

McKee said one of the significant issues in the case is that the charge of official oppression does not fit what Reiter is alleged to have done.

“Official oppression is under the corruption practices of criminal code, which is established for cases dealing with bribery and public corruption; and though I think we disagree a lot about what did and didn’t happen in this case, I think we all agree that this is not a public corruption case,” McKee said Tuesday.

He said he does not know why Maloney filed the official oppression charge against Reiter.

“There’s no crime committed by anything that he allegedly did, and so it never occurred to me that the public corruption statute would be used in what is suggested as a sex offense case according to the state,” he said.

At the Nov. 19 news conference, Maloney said the official oppression statute holds public officials and those in positions of trust to a higher standard and that the charge “fits the scenario perfectly, because he was a public official,” and “people put an enormous amount of trust in (public officials).”

School Superintendent Eric Haley put Reiter on paid leave Sept. 1 and contacted police, who launched an investigation around the same time Haley and Assistant Superintendent Peter Thiboutot started an in-house investigation. Haley eventually recommended the Waterville Board of Education dismiss Reiter.

The board held hearings, mostly in executive session, and voted 6-1 Nov. 16 to fire Reiter. Gregg Frame, Reiter’s attorney for the school investigation case, said Monday that Reiter had not made a decision about whether he will appeal the decision to Kennebec County Superior Court. If he were to appeal, the information kept private in the case would become public.

Maloney announced Nov. 19 that her office, in conjunction with police, was charging Reiter with official oppression as part of the separate police investigation case. McKee represents Reiter in that case.

“Nothing’s going to happen with the criminal case for many months; in fact, we won’t have activity of any substance until April, at the earliest,” McKee said. “This is not unique to Don’s case; it’s the way all criminal cases go.”

Days before the school board made its decision, Waterville police investigated allegations that Reiter had had inappropriate relationships with two female students at Mascenic High School in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, where he taught many years ago.

Waterville police are expected to forward their report on that investigation to New Ipswich police, who have not yet launched their own investigation. New Ipswich police Chief Tim Carpenter said Monday he had not yet received the Waterville police report.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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