November 22, 2013

Falmouth firefighter accused of arson also faces child-sex charge

Griffin Kline, 20, allegedly twice had sexual contact with a minor 14 or younger.

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

A Falmouth part-time firefighter charged with arson also faces a string of additional charges accumulated since September, including sexual assault against a minor, court records show.

Griffin Kline, 20, of Woodlands Drive in Falmouth, was indicted Nov. 8 on one count of gross sexual assault on a minor under the age of 14, and one count of sexual abuse of a minor who is 14, according to the Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court in Portland.

Authorities allege that between Sept. 1, 2012, and July 24, 2013, Kline engaged in a sexual act with a minor under the age of 14 in New Gloucester.

On July 25, 2013, Kline allegedly engaged in another sexual act with a minor. The victim in each case has the same birth date.

Neither Kline nor his attorney, Martin Ridge, returned messages seeking comment.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 10 on the sexual assault charges.

Kline, 20, has served with the Falmouth Fire Department since June 2011, but was placed on leave soon after a Sept. 14 fire in which he was named a suspect, police and fire officials said.

That blaze destroyed a wooden restroom structure at the Woodlands Club golf course. He has no criminal history prior to 2011.

Falmouth Police Chief Edward Tolan said investigators worked with Kline and his attorney to arrange for an interview Wednesday, after which he was charged with arson and released on personal recognizance.

His arraignment on the arson charge is Jan. 16.

“This was all worked out with his attorney in advance,” Tolan said.

The fire at the Woodlands Club golf course, which was not discovered until the next morning by Woodlands staff, caused about $30,000 in damage.

That fire happened several hours after the town responded to a suspicious Dumpster fire at 161 Woodlands Drive in Falmouth.

Since he was placed on leave Sept. 30 following the blaze, Kline has not been allowed to respond to fire calls and has been prohibited from entering town property, said Falmouth Town Manager Nathan Poore.

He has no association with the Falmouth Fire Department or its Emergency Medical Services Department.

Legal trouble for Kline continued after the fire. On Sept. 30, he was arrested on one count of domestic violence assault in Falmouth, after Kline allegedly threw a radio at his father during an argument, Tolan said.

The next month he was arrested again, that time by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, for allegedly violating an order of protection filed on behalf of the victim in the sexual assault, said Cumberland County sheriff’s Lt. Donald Foss.

That arrest took place in Gray on Oct. 17 in a residential neighborhood, Foss said.

A message for the sheriff’s office was not returned, and Tolan did not know where that arrest took place or on what date in October.

“If you can read between the lines, this kid needs some help,” Tolan said.

“For a young man of his age, the (gross sexual assault) and the arson, those are serious charges.”

Kline, like nearly all firefighters in Falmouth, was a call firefighter, who are part-timers who receive an hourly wage for each fire they respond to. Fire Chief Howard Rice Jr. said he did not notice any odd behavior from Kline before September, and noted that the young man diligently attended weekly training sessions.

“I’m at a loss, I guess,” Rice said Thursday. “I didn’t see it coming.”

Staff Reporter Matt Byrne can be reached at 791-6303, or at:

mbyrne@pressherald.com

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