A former music teacher who was convicted earlier this year on 10 counts of unlawful sexual contact with a girl under the age of 14 was sentenced Tuesday, Sept. 27 to serve three years in prison, but not until his appeal is considered by the Maine Law Court.

Justice Anne Murray ordered William Wiley, 42, to serve 15 years behind bars with all but three years suspended and six years of probation during his sentencing hearing at Waldo County Superior Court, but she also sided with defense attorney Stephen Peterson’s argument that Wiley should remain free on post-conviction bail pending the outcome of his appeal.

Wiley, who has been free on $10,000 post-conviction bail since a Waldo County jury found him guilty on the charges last April, will be subject to several conditions in the months leading up to the outcome of his appeal, Murray said.

Those conditions include participation in a Volunteers of America contract, specifically in a sex offender counseling program that is approved by probation and parole; no contact with the victim or her family; and no contact with youths under the age of 17 with the exception of Wiley’s own child. Those visits will be partially supervised, Murray determined. Murray also ordered that Wiley provide weekly proof to the Waldo County District Attorney’s Office that he is following the conditions that were set forth at Tuesday’s hearing.

As was the case during Wiley’s bail hearing, which took place the day after the jury returned the verdict, Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker argued that there were several reasons why Wiley should begin serving his sentence immediately.

Walker said he considered Wiley to be even more of a flight risk than he was after his trial, because the length of his potential sentence is now known. Walker also said Wiley has never admitted to committing the crimes he was convicted of, which raises additional concerns about allowing Wiley to remain free on bail.

“If anything, Mr. Wiley now knows his fate,” said Walker. “… I am still very concerned about the fact that Mr. Wiley is in deep denial.”

Walker added that it is unusual for a defendant to be allowed a delayed sentence pending the outcome of an appeal in a case like this, noting that the court had historically ordered those accused of similar crimes to be held without bail after being convicted. In those cases, the defendants began serving any prison time immediately after their sentencing hearings.

“I am asking that Mr. Wiley begin his sentence today,” said Walker.

Peterson argued Wiley has gone out of his way to follow the conditions that have been imposed by the court system since his arrest on the charges in April 2009. Peterson also argued that Wiley is no more of a flight risk than he was after he was convicted, noting that he had made Wiley aware that he could be facing a lengthy jail sentence.

Peterson said it would likely take between six to nine months for the appeal to be heard by the Maine Law Court, and by then Wiley would have served much of his sentence — particularly if he was allowed an early release from prison for “good time.” In addition to the appeal on the jury’s decision to convict, Peterson said there is also the matter of whether police violated Wiley’s Miranda Rights prior to his arrest.

“It would be an irreversible injustice to have him sitting in jail for six to nine months and then learn that his conviction had been overturned,” Peterson said, adding that he would, however, have no problem with Wiley beginning his probation immediately.

Walker countered that Wiley cannot prove that he does not pose a threat to anyone else in the community because he has not, to date, undergone any sex offender treatment program. Walker added that Wiley has had ample time to seek out that kind of counseling in the months leading up to his trial and over the past five months following his trail.

“He chose not to, he chose another counselor that wouldn’t confront him on these issues,” said Walker, referring to the 25 counseling sessions Wiley had undergone with licensed clinical social worker Shawn Hodgdon.

Earlier in the hearing, both Hodgdon and Peterson pointed out that the court had not yet ordered Wiley into sex offender treatment, but he was ordered to undergo counseling because the court was concerned that Wiley had become suicidal after the trial concluded.

Victim: ‘He made it all seem like it was okay’

As the hearing got underway Tuesday afternoon, Walker rehashed the circumstances surrounding Wiley’s arrest in the spring of 2009, his subsequent resignation from his longtime position as a music teacher in the former Searsport school system and what occurred between Wiley and the victim during a six-month period in 2004.

Walker said the sexual abuse that the victim experienced occurred when the girl was between the ages of 12 and 13 years old, and that Wiley’s actions remained a secret for five years after it stopped. The abuse stopped, added Walker, after the victim threatened to tell her mother.

“Mr. Wiley told her not to tell anyone about this because he could go to jail,” Walker said.

Due to the victim’s age at the time of the abuse, Walker said the girl was initially flattered by the attention she was receiving from Wiley and on occasion was aroused by his actions. But she was also confused, Walker said, because of Wiley’s direction that she refrain from telling anyone about it.

In the years after the abuse stopped, Walker said the victim continued to suffer.

“She went through some really rough times after the abuse ended,” said Walker. “…She started cutting herself. She had an eating disorder; she had anorexia.”

Walker also said the relationship between the victim and her mother also suffered as a result of the abuse.

Walker acknowledged that Wiley had a good deal of support from friends and family, many of whom were seated behind Wiley in the courtroom Tuesday.

“Many of those people have written letters to the court today,” said Walker, adding that many of them spoke to Wiley’s reputation as a good friend, neighbor, teacher and father at his trial.

But, Walker said, that is the result of Wiley’s success in hiding the dark side of his personality.

“This is a case of two different sides of William Wiley,” said Walker. “… Everyone else in the public and in his family thought he could do no wrong.”

Walker said Wiley’s victim, however, is one person who knows the full scope of Wiley’s true self.

Walker also discussed the findings of state forensic psychiatrist Dr. Andrew Wish, who examined Wiley last spring. One of the things Wish determined as a result of that forensic examination was that Wiley apparently had no mental health problems, nor did he have any issues with substance abuse.

That, said Walker, indicated that Wiley’s actions were carried out with a clear mind, a circumstance that Walker said was unusual because in most cases the perpetrator is under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the abuse.

“But Mr. Wiley was dead sober when all of these acts occurred,” said Walker.

Wish also noted in his report that Wiley had not taken responsibility for the crimes, and that he blamed the victim, her family and the police.

“He’s basically pointing the finger at everyone but himself,” Walker said.

Walker said Wish additionally found that Wiley exhibited “narcissistic personality traits” and that he does not feel empathy toward others. Wish’s report also stated that Wiley suffers from “substantial cognitive distortion” with respect to the degree of power he said the victim held over him, and blamed her sexual curiosity for his actions.

Wish also commented on the counseling that Wiley was undergoing with Hodgdon, and Walker said the state’s examiner concluded that those counseling sessions were not helpful.

“It is reinforcing the contention that [Wiley] is the victim in this case,” said Walker. “He has not been in any sex offender counseling… It is solidifying the cognitive distortions he is using the deny his behavior.”

Walker acknowledged that Wiley had no criminal record prior to his 2009 arrest, and that he had a reputation in the community for being a good teacher with an excellent work ethic, as well as for being a good father.

“All of those things are important mitigating factors for the court to consider,” said Walker.

The great amount of support Wiley has from friends and family is normally a positive thing for people in Wiley’s position, but in this case it is a “double-edged sword” because many of the letters written to the court by Wiley’s supporters also appeared to blame the victim, her family and police.

“If he’s surrounded with family members and friends that basically allow him to remain in denial… That does not bode well,” Walker said.

Based on several aggravating factors, including the seriousness of the offenses, the fact that the jury rejected Wiley’s testimony, Wiley’s denial about the crimes and the risk that Wiley poses to the community as an untreated sex offender should result in a sentence of 18 years with all but eight years suspended and eight years of probation.

Walker’s request was followed by an impact statement from the victim, which Walker read on her behalf.

The victim, who is now 20 years old and employed full time, wrote that she was in sixth grade when she was first subjected to Wiley’s abuse.

“He made it all seem like it was okay at first,” the letter stated.

Soon after, the victim stated that she became confused, especially when Wiley began talking to her about his own sexual problems and offered her compliments about her appearance.

“He told me I was beautiful, that I had a great body and that I turned him on,” she stated.

In her letter, the victim said it reached a point where she wanted it to stop, and that Wiley had told her what they were doing was wrong. The abuse stopped after she threatened to tell her mother, according to the victim, but the problems she experienced because of it were just beginning.

“I ended up in a deep depression,” she stated, and noted her problems with cutting and anorexia.

Years later, the victim said, she finally told her long-term boyfriend about the abuse after he suspected something was wrong and asked her about it. From there, the victim said her boyfriend convinced her to tell her mother and to report Wiley to police.

In the months that followed, the victim said, she started college and made it halfway through her second year before the stress of the upcoming trial became too much for her.

The victim also recalled feeling ostracized by people in the Searsport community after word got around town that she was the person accusing Wiley of the abuse.

“That was very hard for me as well,” she said. “… I just wish they knew and believed that what I was saying was the truth.”

That feeling of isolation has worsened since the conclusion of the trial, she said, as she has been harassed via e-mail since the conclusion of the trial.

“They only saw the show that [Wiley] put on in public,” she said.

The victim’s boyfriend and her mother also addressed the court, and both asked the court to consider the pain he caused the victim and her family when determining an appropriate sentence.

“His actions before and during the trial are disgusting and unforgivable,” the victim’s boyfriend told the court.

Supporters describe Wiley as ‘kind’ and ‘giving’

Peterson left it to the 11 people who had submitted letters expressing support for Wiley to lead off his portion of the hearing, and to Wiley himself, who also addressed the court.

Liz Ploszaj told the court she first met Wiley when she was a fifth grader who was a student in his music and band classes. From the start, she said she knew Wiley had a way with his students.

“He made it so all students, even those who didn’t much care for music, enjoyed his class,” she said.

She spoke about Wiley’s creation of the long-standing and successful summer theater program, an annual tradition that was once a highly anticipated annual affair that lost its luster after Wiley was no longer in the picture.

“It wasn’t the same,” she said.

Liz Ploszaj described the weeks after Wiley’s arrest as “a very emotional time both at home and at school,” and she complimented Wiley on his handling of the situation in the months that followed, noting that even now he continues to put others before himself.

“He asks for little help, trying not to burden others with his problems,” she said. “… Mr. Wiley’s a good person.”

Joel and Suzanne Ploszaj said they met Wiley six years ago, when their children were still in elementary school. Their family had just moved to Searsport, and they became fast friends with Wiley and his family.

“Our families often got together on weekends,” said Suzanne Ploszaj.

Suzanne Ploszaj said she had many opportunities to observe Wiley in action at work and saw everyday interactions he had with his own family. She described Wiley as “kind, giving and morally outstanding.”

The Ploszajs stuck by Wiley’s side after his arrest and throughout his trial, and they have since watched him struggle with issues such as losing his family as a result of the charges he faced, and with finding employment.

“William Wiley is not a threat to society, himself, or to anyone around him,” said Suzanne Ploszaj, who asked the court not to lock him up while he awaited his appeal.

Paige Bradshaw spoke of her experiences of having Wiley as a teacher and working with him during the summer theater program, noting that she and her sisters had been involved in at least 15 of his productions.

“There seemed to be a certain kindness in the way he addressed his students,” she said. “… Even the misbehaved kids behaved.”

Bradshaw said Wiley did not command respect from his students, but rather, he earned it with his calm demeanor and tendency to include them when making decisions about costumes, music or props.

“Besides knowing Mr. Wiley as a teacher and as a director, I have known him as a friend,” she said. “He is not the kind of person who is a danger to society.”

Wiley’s sister, Nancy Gilpatrick, also delivered a heartfelt plea for mercy on behalf of her brother.

Gilpatrick described Wiley as someone who developed his musical talent at a young age; he grew into a gifted drummer, she said, and also enjoyed an active social life and a couple of long term relationships during high school and college.

He accepted the music teacher’s position in Searsport right out of college, and “put all of his energy into his job.”

He went on to create a successful theater program and put on shows that were sold-out events in the community.

Now, she said, he struggles financially and continues to pay child support for his son “even on weeks when he couldn’t buy his own food.” Gilpatrick said her brother takes great pride in being a good father to his son, and goes out of his way to teach him manners, as well as engage the boy in music and art projects when the two are together during their visits.

Gilpatrick said she has watched her brother mourn the loss of his teaching career and his marriage, as well as several friendships and his reputation. Because of the loss of his teaching job, Wiley has lost his pension, and because he never paid in to the social security system, he has no retirement plan to speak of. He has lost contact with two of his nephews because they are too young to be around him, Gilpatrick said.

“Bill [Wiley] has nothing more to lose except for his freedom,” she said. “… He was believed guilty by the press and the legal system from the moment the accusation was made.”

In spite of all of that, Gilpatrick said her brother still maintains his willingness to help others — he cares for his elderly mother and is always on hand to help a friend in need, for example.

“I believe with all of my heart that he is innocent of the charges,” she said, bringing to a close the comments that brought tears to Wiley’s eyes.

Lisa Plunkett, who identified herself as a childhood friend and former girlfriend of Wiley’s, described the defendant as having exceptional compassion for others for as long as she has known him.

“In high school we began dating and Bill [Wiley] was my first love,” she said, her voice cracking. “I feel I know him in a way that not many people have… I’ll always be a good friend to him.”

The two would often babysit the children of Wiley;s sisters, and Plunkett said she wanted to marry Wiley because of his gentle way with kids.

Eventually, their relationship ended, but Plunkett said they remained friends over the years. When she learned of Wiley;s success in his career and about his marriage, she said she was happy for him.

That ended when she got word of Wiley’s arrest.

“I was simply destroyed to see a newscast about the charges against him,” Plunkett said, adding that she knew the accusations against Wiley could not be true.

“And I believe in him still,” she told the court.

Wiley himself also addressed the court, and for much of that time he spoke to the importance of maintaining his relationship with his son.

He assured the court that he would never “try to harm [the victim] or any members of her family,” and at one point criticized the media for the extensive coverage of his arrest and subsequent trial.

He also told the citizens of Searsport that he never posed a threat to their children.

“Your children were always safe with me.” he said.

With the support of family and friends, and through the help of his counselor, Wiley said he has learned a lot about himself, and has been able to start a small business in recent months.

But the fact remains, Wiley said, that he is innocent of the crimes that a jury found him guilty of committing.

“To be honest I am confused; I have never hurt anyone in my life,” he said. “… Whatever you decide I will work hard to accept it, but it will never change the truth.”

Wiley went on to ask the court to allow him to remain free on bail while he awaited his appeal.

“I will do what you ask of me, and more,” he said.

When Peterson addressed the court, he took issue with Walker’s claim that the jury did not buy Wiley’s story because of the fact that jurors found Wiley guilty on lesser unlawful sexual contact charges.

“We can speculate on what the jury was thinking,” said Peteerson. “But they clearly said to the state, ‘We don’t accept everything you’re accusing Mr. Wiley of.'”

Peterson said the mitigating factors in Wiley’s case far outweighed the aggravating factors, in particular his lack of a prior criminal history and the great amount of support he has from family and friends. Based on that, peterson asked the court to impose a fully suspended jail sentence.

On Walker’s contention that Wiley has yet to accept responsibility in the matter, Peterson argued that it would be difficult for an innocent person to do, especially under these circumstances.

“It would be hypocritical for him to say, ‘I deny that I did that but if I did I’m really sorry,'” said Peterson. “he would have to admit to things that did not happen in order for the [sex offender] treatment to work.”