Longtime Maine educator charged with sexual assault
HOULTON, Maine (BDN) -- A longtime educator in southern Aroostook County was arrested Thursday in connection with multiple accounts of unlawful sexual contact after a weeklong investigation by the Houlton Police Department.
James J. Rochford, 75, was charged with three counts of unlawful sexual contact, one count of furnishing a place for minors to consume alcohol and one count of furnishing liquor to a minor, Houlton police Chief Tim DeLuca said Monday.
Police released no further details.
“This investigation is of extremely deep concern for our community,” DeLuca said. “We received a contact last week via social media about a potential victim that was allegedly sexually molested. We started looking into this immediately and reached out to the victim.”
As police conducted their investigation, additional victims began to emerge. The chief declined to say exactly how many victims there were, but said that the investigation is ongoing. The chief described the victims as young adult men.
The Houlton police, in conjunction with the Aroostook County district attorney’s office, received an arrest warrant for Rochford, who was taken into custody without incident Thursday, the chief said.
Rochford is an educational technician at the Region Two School of Applied Technology and taught in RSU 29 and Southern Aroostook Community School for a number of years.
“As many of you are aware from media reports, there have been allegations of an inappropriate relationship between a CTE Region Two employee and a minor,” said David Keaton, director for Region Two. “While I appreciate that this type of allegation is extremely unsettling and causes great concern to parents, students and community members, I cannot comment further on the specifics because of the need to respect the rights of the individuals involved and the confidentiality laws surrounding minor and personnel matters.
DeLuca said police and the school have taken precautions to ensure Rochford has no contact with any of the victims at the school and ensure the students’ safety. He added there was some concern that the case might reveal additional incidents with additional victims dating back several years.
“Victims are coming forward, and we encourage anyone who may have been a victim or witness to reach out to us,” DeLuca said. “We are sympathetic to the victims’ privacy. I have zero tolerance for this in our community.”
Rochford was taken to the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton, and he was later released on $2,000 unsecured bail with conditions. Attempts to determine when Rochford would next appear in court were not successful.