TOPSHAM — Dozens of parents of children who participated in Midcoast Youth Theater of Maine productions met privately Thursday night to vent their feelings and connect with each other following the arrest last week of the group’s longtime director on charges he sexually abused three girls he met through the program.

Henry A. Eichman, 56, was arrested Sept. 9 on two counts each of sexual exploitation of a minor under 12, unlawful sexual contact and violation of privacy. Prosecutors allege Eichman, who helped found the theater group in 2003 and directed some of its shows, used his position to prey on three girls who were participants in the musical theater productions when they visited him at his home.

About 50 people attended the two-hour meeting at the Midcoast Presbyterian Church, said Greg Howard, a volunteer spokesman for the theater troupe. It was closed to the media and a board member asked a reporter to leave the church’s parking lot.

In a telephone interview after the meeting, Howard said the parents discussed their feelings about Eichman’s arrest and what will happen next in the criminal case against him. The families of the alleged victims were not present.

“I think the reactions ranged the entire gamut,” Howard said. “There was anger. There was confusion. There was frustration. There was sadness. And there was a lot of hope.”

Howard said that each person was allowed to speak about the charges leveled against Eichman and how they have reacted within their own families.

The group last year held six productions that involved around 250 to 300 people, including many children.

After his arrest, Eichman made an initial appearance Monday in West Bath District Court, where he was ordered held on $5,000 cash bail or $50,000 real estate surety.

If he is released, Eichman is barred from having contact with children under 16, including the three alleged victims, and is required to stay away from all schools, Midcoast Youth Theater functions and the Midcoast Presbyterian Church, where the group typically holds rehearsals and other meetings.

Eichman was a contract employee and one of multiple directors for the group. All of the organization’s directors and non-parent staff also are school employees, and are therefore subject to background checks.

Howard said the board will discuss ways to strengthen the screening process for adults involved in the group, but noted that Eichman, who also had been a part-time drama teacher at St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick since 2008, last passed a state records check July 7, 2016.

He also reiterated that while the accusations involve members of the theater group, none of the alleged abuse took place at a theater function.

In court papers, police allege that Eichman abused three girls over a period of two years at his Pleasant Street home in Topsham, which is steps away from the church where the group typically rehearses and holds functions.

In interviews with police officers, the victims described multiple incidents in which Eichman either touched them inappropriately or secretly took photographs and video of them during pool parties or sleep-overs.

Eichman has yet to be indicted on the felony charges and is due back in court in November.

Howard repeatedly emphasized that no law enforcement agency has contacted the group or asked for information, and that despite the circumstances parents took the meeting as a chance to extol the group’s virtues.

“If law enforcement had a reason to contact us, they most certainly would have already,” Howard said.

The group will continue its production schedule, and is holding auditions this weekend.

“The show goes on,” Howard said.


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