A bill that lifts the age cap on victims of sex crimes when the victim is a student and the accused is an educator now awaits the signature of Gov. Paul LePage after it was passed Friday by the Senate.

Sponsored by Sen. Scott Cyrway, R-Benton, the bill was proposed after Waterville Senior High School Principal Don Reiter was accused of propositioning an 18-year-old student last year.

Cyrway’s legislation removes the age limit on a victim of unlawful sexual contact, unlawful sexual touching or gross sexual assault when the victim is a student at an elementary, secondary or special education school and the alleged perpetrator is a person at the school who has authority over the student. The age limit had been 17.

In November, Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney charged Reiter, who had been dismissed by the school board earlier that week, with official oppression, a class E misdemeanor. Maloney said at the time that if the student had been under 18, Reiter would have been charged with attempted sexual assault.

Cyrway said in a news release, “Many of our high school students are 18 years of age or older, but that does not mean that they are not vulnerable to being taken advantage of by a person at the school with instructional and authoritative power. These students deserve to be protected just as students under the age of 18 are.”

It is illegal in Maine for an educator to have sexual contact with a student under 18, but high school students may be as old as 20.

“In many cases, children with special needs remain in school for the maximum amount of time,” the release from the Senate Majority Office says.

Maloney said in February that the case against Reiter is on hold while Waterville Police Department detectives collect more information, specifically Reiter’s computer and phone records. She said the charge against Reiter has not been dropped and there is a three-year statute of limitations on the crime he was accused of.

Reiter’s lawyer, Walter McKee, entered a not guilty plea Feb. 2 on the official oppression charge.

Waterville police did not press charges against Reiter immediately but re-opened the investigation after two former graduates of Mascenic Regional High School in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, alleged he had inappropriate relationships with them while he was principal at that school.

Waterville police were to have sent their report on the Reiter case to the Police Department in New Ipswich; but as of Monday, it had not been sent.

Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey said Monday that the investigation has taken longer than expected because of the large amount of information, including phone and computer records, that police must review.

“We’re still going over a lot of the information that is contained there,” he said.

Detective Sgt. Bill Bonney, who is heading the investigation, is away this week for training, according to Massey.

A call placed Monday afternoon to Reiter’s cellphone was not returned immediately. A message on his phone at the home where he lived last year in Mount Vernon says the phone has been disconnected.

Calls to Maloney, McKee and Cyrway also were not returned immediately Monday afternoon.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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Twitter: @AmyCalder17