Judge Rejects Plea Deal in Orono Child Sex Case 

An Orono man who admitted to sex crimes against children was expected to be sentenced Thursday.

Instead, a judge rejected a plea agreement, essentially sending this case back to square one.

40-year-old Wyatt Higgins-Tripp of Orono faces 135 charges that he sexually abused children, some of them under the age of 12.

In all, prosecutors say he had more than a thousand encounters with five young boys at his home.

“I’m not going to accept the plea agreement,” stated Judge William Anderson Thursday.

The deal would have put Higgins-Tripp behind bars for ten years.

“I believe that the convictions would require a more severe sentence than was recommended,” said Anderson.

Last month, Higgins-Tripp pleaded guilty to 15 counts against him. As part of the agreement, the remaining 120 counts would have been dropped.

Prosecutors say this is highly unique case.

“The number of victims, the time period over which the crime occurred. There is really – you don’t see many cases of this magnitude,” said Penobscot County Assistant District Attorney Alice Clifford.

“What he did was quite monstrous,” said Anderson.

The judge cited Higgins-Tripp’s lack of remorse, and disagreed with the defense’s argument that he’d be better served with less jail time and more treatment.

“Giving and receiving oral sex to a child under twelve years old would indicate otherwise to me,” said Anderson. “I don’t see how you could not be a threat in the future.”

Prosecutors say they were hoping to avoid a trial.

“Obviously these cases are kind of hard to try, to help not put a victim on the stand, to avoid a trial for someone having to testify about the most intimate details of their lives,” said Clifford.

But now that the plea deal is off the table, that scenario may in fact play out.

“I believe the case will be put on a trial list at this point and then we’ll determine whether or not it goes to trial or the defendant will plead guilty,” said Clifford.