ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Southwest Harbor man who was charged with manslaughter 12 years ago pleaded not guilty Friday in Hancock Superior Court to charges of sexual abuse of a minor and tampering with a witness.

Frank Rees, 83, shook slightly and held onto an aluminum cane as he was arraigned in court. Rees is accused of having inappropriate contact with a 15-year-old girl in Southwest Harbor in February and then of offering the girl’s family money if they would not report the incident to police.

Rees’ attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth, on Friday asked Justice Kevin Cuddy for 60 days to collect information about the case. He said that Rees suffers from dementia and that he needs time to have tests on his client’s mental state completed.

“We’re trying to flush out the extent of his impairment as it exists,” Toothaker told the judge.

Cuddy granted Toothaker’s request after Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellett said she had no objection.

In 1997, Rees was charged with manslaughter after he struck and killed pedestrian William Porter while driving his Cadillac over the Bass Harbor Marsh bridge between Southwest Harbor and Tremont.

In 2002, the charge was dismissed because Rees had been found incompetent to stand trial. Though his driver’s license was permanently suspended after the 1997 accident, Rees was allowed to continue living on his own because state health officials determined his dementia did not qualify as a mental illness and because he was able to take care of his own affairs.

Rees remains free on bail.

In other Hancock County Superior Court arraignments, an Ellsworth antique auto dealer pleaded not guilty Friday to two counts of theft and one count of misuse of entrusted property.

Terrance Pinkham, 55, owner of Moto Car on Route 1A, is accused of brokering a sale of a 1972 Mercedes-Benz last October but not giving the owner any of the proceeds. Pinkham allegedly had an agreement that required him to give the owner $10,000 from the sale but allowed him to keep the rest.

Also in Superior Court on Friday was James Grindel, 43, who is facing burglary charges in connection with a March break-in at a home in Mount Desert. Grindel allegedly broke into the house after having been recently released from prison on a prior burglary and theft conviction.

Toothaker, representing Grindel, asked Cuddy to set bail of $500 for Grindel. Toothaker said he realized such a low amount was not typical for someone in Grindel’s situation, but that $500 was all that Grindel could afford.

Cuddy denied the request. Grindel remained Friday at Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth where he was being held on bail of $25,000 surety or $10,000 cash.



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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....