Tanner House learned a valuable lesson on Nov. 4 when he was charged with unlawful sexual touching and assault at 103 Ultra Lounge in Orono.
Both charges were recently dismissed in 3rd District Court in Bangor, but University of Maine hockey freshman still paid a price and is intent on transforming the incident into a positive, life-changing experience.
He wants to help others avoid making the same mistake he made.
“The big thing is, we are role models for almost the whole state of Maine, not just our community. It takes a long time to build a reputation but it takes one mistake to wreck that reputation and that’s not something you want to do,” said House, who received a six-game suspension from the university.
“Unfortunately, I made a mistake and I had to pay the consequences for it. I learned from it and, hopefully, other people will learn from it and won’t have to go what I went through. They can use me as an example for the other guys on the team and athletes in other sports,” added House.
House began performing community service well before his anticipated Dec. 13 arraignment date and continues to do so.
“I wanted to get my name out there for the right reason. I wanted to be proactive,” said House, who helps coach a local squirts hockey team once a week and will do so for the rest of the season.
He has also made himself available to Brandi Rideout, the director of athletic student-services, to represent the university any time they need a student-athlete to speak or appear at a community function.
Alcohol was involved in the incident and House said, “looking at what happened and how things can happen so fast, it isn’t worth it to put yourself in those situations. You’ve got to be careful, you’ve got to be smarter when you make decisions. You never know what can happen. Unfortunately, something bad happened from my decision. I learned the hard way.”
House, who met with councilors at UMaine and found the meetings beneficial, said one of the most difficult repercussions was knowing “I let my parents and my teammates down.”
Maine went 1-4-1 without House in the lineup.
One of the positives for House was it ensured “I focused on school and hockey.
“And I want to keep doing [community service] when I can. I want to embrace being a positive role model,” said House, who finished the first semester with a 3.92 grade point average.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said, “I’ve been very impressed how Tanner has handled the situation.
“He has found a way to turn it into a positive,” added Whitehead. “He has done and continues to do a tremendous amount of community service. And he began doing it before there was an inkling that the charges would be dropped.”
Whitehead added, “He’s a great kid and he has been a great addition to our program.”
House has a goal and four assists in 14 games and also plays on the power play and penalty kill.
“I’m glad I’m back in the lineup and making a contribution. Hopefully, we can get things turned around,” said the 21-year-old native of Cochrane, Alberta.