ROCKLAND – The assistant principal of Georges Valley High School in Thomaston pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal threatening in a case that accuses him of brandishing a gun at his now ex-wife.
Edward Hastings, 51, of Thomaston was scheduled to go to trial Friday on charges of criminal threatening and terrorizing – both Class C felonies – that might have jeopardized his administrator and teacher certifications had he been convicted of those crimes. The charges stem from a Sept. 9, 2005, domestic incident.
On Wednesday, Hastings appeared in Knox County Superior Court to process a plea agreement before Justice Donald Marden.
In the agreement, Hastings pleaded guilty to a criminal threatening charge that was reduced from a Class C felony to a Class D misdemeanor, and the terrorizing charge was dismissed.
District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said the agreement was possible through an arrangement called deferred disposition. He said it was a sentencing tool created by the Legislature two years ago during sentencing restructure. The alternative has not been widely used, he said.
An actual conviction against Hastings will not come until Oct. 23, 2007, when he returns to court, Rushlau said. Hastings has not been sentenced.
SAD 50 Superintendent Judith Harvey said Wednesday that a misdemeanor conviction would have no effect on Hastings’ employment with the district. He has been employed by SAD 50 for 25 years.
Harvey believes that a felony conviction against an administrator or teacher might result in the loss of state certifications.
Further terms of the plea agreement are that Hastings undergo an anger management evaluation and follow all recommendations of the evaluator, that he has no contact with his ex-wife, and that he complete 80 hours of public service work.
Hastings must refrain from all criminal conduct and violations of federal, state and local laws, to identify himself as being on deferred disposition if arrested or questioned by law enforcement and notify the District Attorney’s Office in writing of any contact with law enforcement within 96 hours of that contact. He must keep the court informed of any change of address or telephone number within 24 hours of the change and comply with all bail conditions.
Hastings may not possess a firearm except for hunting in a designated hunting area during lawful hunting seasons.
Should Hastings satisfactorily follow the judge’s order, he will return to court on Oct. 23, 2007, and his criminal threatening charge would be dismissed and he would instead plead guilty to disorderly conduct and pay a $400 fine. Disorderly conduct is a Class E misdemeanor.
Any violation of the deferred disposition terms would result in an open sentencing hearing on the criminal threatening charge, Rushlau said, which could bring up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
Hastings’ attorney Eric Morse could not be reached for comment. Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald prosecuted the case.
In September 2005, Hastings initially was charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. According to information from police at the time, Hastings had threatened his then-estranged wife with a handgun.