Falmouth party parents agree to pay, do service after jury deadlocks
PORTLAND — The Falmouth parents on trial for allegedly allowing an underage drinking party at their home last June 16 reached an agreement with prosecutors Thursday after jurors said they were “hopelessly deadlocked” after nearly two days of deliberation.
Under the agreement, Barry and Paula Spencer must pay $6,000 in restitution, make a $2,500 donation to the Victim's Compensation Fund, complete 100 hours of community service and write a letter for publication in The Forecaster taking responsibility for their actions.
The Spencers and prosecutors said they were pleased with the agreement and are happy the trial is over.
“It was extremely difficult,” Paula Spencer said outside the Cumberland County Courthouse after the 3 1/2-day trial.
The Spencers, of 35 Fieldstone Lane, Falmouth, each faced seven Class D counts of allowing a minor to possess or consume liquor. The party last year included members of the state champion Falmouth High School baseball and lacrosse teams, along with other students who showed up at the home. The Spencers' son played on the baseball team.
Walter McKee, attorney for Barry Spencer, said any reasonable mind could disagree on what happened at the party, but the important thing for the Spencers is that the case has been resolved.
“This has been, obviously, a difficult case for all parties,” he said. “We are done with it, the jury could not reach a verdict and I think that says a lot. When six people on one side and six people on the other disagree that is reasonable doubt right there.”
Paula Spencer's attorney, William Childs, said that there is recognition on both sides that things could have been done differently, but there was no criminal conduct and the Spencers found themselves in a difficult situation that spun out of their control.
District Attorney Stephanie Anderson said she, too, is pleased with the agreement that was reached.
“There were a lot of very bad things that could have happened (at the party) that fortunately did not happen,” she said. “Nobody got injured, nobody got killed and that's very fortunate, but there were a lot of kids there who were very intoxicated and there was a lot of potential for harm there.”
Anderson said she would not have pursued a second trial had the jury deadlock resulted in a mistrial.
“The thing about this jury was that there wasn't any movement, it was the same this morning as it was yesterday afternoon,” she said. “I think it is the kind of issue that people feel very passionately about and I think that there were some jurors who thought, 'this could have been me.'”
At 6 p.m. Wednesday Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz polled jurors to see if having a night to sleep on the information they had would help them reach a verdict. Enough of them said yes or that it might help that Moskowitz told them to return Thursday.
But by noon there was still no movement and the agreement with the Spencers was reached.
If the Spencers comply with all aspects of the agreement by Aug. 10, the state will dismiss all charges against them.