AUGUSTA — Donald J. Reiter, fired in November 2015 as principal of Waterville High School after a student alleged he asked her for sex, surrendered his teaching credentials permanently in exchange for the state dismissing a charge of official oppression.

The criminal case was dismissed Thursday during a brief hearing at the Capital Judicial Center.

The prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh, told Justice Michaela Murphy, “He won’t be in the classroom.”

The dismissal document filed in the court says “defendant has agreed to permanently surrender his Department of Education credentials.”

Cavanaugh said that includes credentials as a teacher and as an administrator.

The court action brings to a close more than a year of controversy over the former principal, who denied the allegation and was supported by many in the community, even drawing applause from faculty members, parents and students during one of his hearings.

Reiter, 45, of Mount Vernon, was placed on administrative leave Sept. 1, 2015, after an 18-year-old student alleged he had called her into his office from class on Aug 27, 2015, the first day of school, and asked her for sex.

In an interview with a reporter on Nov. 7, 2015, Reiter adamantly denied the allegation, and a number of local people, including high school staff members, rallied behind Reiter.

However, after Waterville schools Superintendent Eric Haley and Assistant Superintendent Peter Thiboutot had conducted an in-house investigation into the allegation, Reiter was fired in a 6-1 vote of the Waterville Board of Education in November.

The Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office filed a charge of official oppression against Reiter late last year following a criminal investigation by Waterville police. Official oppression, a misdemeanor, is a charge that seeks to make educators and those in positions of authority accountable for their actions.

The charge, which is rare, said “on or about Aug. 27, 2015, in Waterville, Kennebec County Maine, Donald J. Reiter, being a public servant and acting with the intent to benefit himself or another, or to harm another, he knowingly committed an unauthorized act which purported to be an act of his office, or knowingly refrained from performing a duty imposed on him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office.”

Reiter, through his defense attorney, Walter McKee, had pleaded not guilty to the charge. Reiter was hired in 2007 as principal at Waterville High School and would have been paid $102,000 in the 2015-16 school year.

On Thursday, McKee and Cavanaugh described the dismissal arrangement to Justice Michaela Murphy in chambers before the public portion of the hearing.

The deal had been in the works for some time, but it was postponed until October to allow more time to work out details, District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said previously.

During their investigation, Waterville police in November 2015 learned of similar allegations about Reiter by two former students at Mascenic Regional High School in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, where Reiter worked from 1998 to 2004. He had been a teacher and an assistant principal there.

On Thursday, Maloney said via email, “We agreed to dismiss the misdemeanor charge of official oppression in exchange for Mr. Reiter surrendering his teaching credential.”

She also said Reiter agreed to allow Maine authorities to share with police and education officials in New Hampshire results of search warrants executed by Waterville police.

“This will aid New Hampshire in their investigation.” Maloney said. Maloney said New Hampshire authorities now can get access to the results of three search warrants, affidavits, and inventories that were executed in Maine and impounded in Maine.

Waterville police had executed search warrants on Reiter’s personal computer and his phone.

“We were not allowed to share the information with New Hampshire Department of Education or police,” she said. “Now we can.”

She also said the agreement for the dismissal “accomplishes far more than a fine of a few hundred dollars, which is the typical consequence of a misdemeanor.”

A telephone message and an email sent to New Ipswich, New Hampshire, police Chief Tim Carpenter requesting information about any investigation there was not answered Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday, Reiter was in the lobby of the courthouse in Augusta but not in the courtroom when the case was being dismissed. McKee said Reiter was not required to be present. McKee also said Thursday that Reiter is working in a different field.

After the hearing, McKee said via email, “The case is dismissed and over. Don is surrendering his Department of Education credentials which really means little because given what happened last year with the school, he has zero plans of teaching again.”

McKee added, “We would have loved nothing more than to challenge this case at trial — not only as to what happened but also as to whether there was ever even a crime here. But it is hard to turn down a complete dismissal.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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