ELLSWORTH – A former Bar Harbor choir director charged with inappropriately touching a young male member of his choir was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in prison with all but three suspended.
The sentence for Thomas Wallace, 42, will be followed by 14 years of probation, the maximum allowed by law for the crimes of unlawful sexual contact and assault.
“The protection of society and of the young people in the community is the most important factor,” Justice Thomas Delehanty said before handing down the sentence in Hancock County Superior Court.
Wallace, former director of the popular Eden Children’s Chorus and Ensemble in Bar Harbor, showed little reaction during the sentencing.
Before the judge’s decision, however, he read from a prepared statement, apologizing for the harm he had caused the victims.
“There is no excuse,” he said, emotion heavy in his voice. “I realize that I have placed a terrible burden on the victims, their families, my own family and a community.”
Two 11-year-old twin boys and members of the children’s ensemble testified during Wallace’s trial in August that the older man acted inappropriately toward them in September 2005.
The boys had become friendly with Wallace during choir practice and that friendship eventually extended outside rehearsals. They often went to Wallace’s home for play dates that included activities such as wrestling and massages.
During one of these visits, one of the boys said Wallace kissed him on the mouth. The other boy said Wallace reached up his shorts and touched the boy’s penis for about a minute and then asked if he could put it in his mouth.
During his trial, Wallace did little to deny the charges against him and even admitted that he was a lover of young boys. A jury took just 30 minutes to find the man guilty.
“Until today, I don’t think he’s showed any remorse,” Delehanty said.
Before the sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellett called two witnesses to speak about the effect of Wallace’s crimes.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how much injury he has caused the community,” said Ruth Eveland of Bar Harbor, former president of the Eden’s Children’s Chorus and Ensemble. “The chorus was destroyed. It’s so damaged now, it cannot continue.”
What’s worse, she said is that, “Parents are second-guessing every adult who wants to work with their children.”
The mother of the two victims also spoke.
“My sons have lived in fear,” she said. “Our family will never be the same.”
The defense called many others to speak Wednesday on Wallace’s behalf, describing the man as a gifted musician and composer, a deeply genuine individual and a principled person.
Two mental health professionals also helped explain a recent psychiatric evaluation on Wallace, which revealed that he was raised in an environment of misconduct that included sexual abuse as a minor.
Wallace tried to seek therapy in the past, they testified, and had been seeing a therapist about a month before the incidents took place in 2005.
In explaining his sentence, Justice Delehanty said a balance of incarceration and probation was necessary, but he worried that Wallace’s pedophilia is something that can’t be cured.
Kellett agreed after the hearing but said she was pleased with the sentence, particularly the length of probation.
Aside from his prison sentence and probation, Wallace was ordered upon his release not to have any contact with the victims or with any boys under the age of 18.
He must also comply with the state’s sex offender registration program.