PARIS — A registered sex offender on probation after serving five years for gross sexual assault was arrested last week for attending a school volunteer trip and having contact with minors in September.
Rodney A. Heath, 38, of 970 Gore Road in Otisfield, who also goes by the name of Rodney Shackley, was charged with prohibited contact with a minor after attending a weekend field trip of the Oxford Hills Technical School.
Heath, a tattoo artist, was convicted of Class B unlawful sexual conduct, Class C aggravated criminal trespass, and Class D domestic assault in 2007 and sentenced to eight years, with all but five suspended and three years of probation.
In 2008, while serving time at the Maine State Prison, he pleaded no contest to a charge of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. He was sentenced to one year, to be served concurrently with his previous sentence. He is a lifetime registrant on the state sex offender registry.
At the Sept. 15 outing, a witness said she saw Heath there. She said Heath spent a lot of time talking to a 10-year-old girl. The conditions of Heath's probation bar him from contact with children under age 18 and from going on school property.
School officials said they are looking at how to prevent sex offenders from getting into future events. According to the police report, a student journalist interviewed Heath in a story that was printed in the Advertiser-Democrat weekly newspaper. Heath was quoted as “Rodney Smith.”
“It was a surprise to us,” said Shawn Lambert, director of Oxford Hills Technical School in Paris. Lambert said it was a weekend volunteer event, in which students took a bus from the school to the Saco River in Fryeburg, rode in canoes and cleaned trash and debris from the river.
Lambert said students were encouraged to bring family members. Heath is the uncle of a student at the school, Lambert said. Heath went on school grounds, Lambert said, which was a violation of his parole conditions, and boarded a school bus. Lambert said he signed in simply as “Uncle Rod,” which he said was common for informal trips.
He said the trip is annual, with school staff and Oxford Hills SkillsUSA members. “It's been kind of a 'get-to-know-you' activity,” Lambert said. “We try to get as many people to come as possible.”
“It's less like a field trip, and more like, there's this activity going on that's public,” Lambert said. “Obviously, maintaining the safety is our first responsibility.”
“He was volunteering, but he wasn't necessarily volunteering for the school,” Lambert said. “We do have a school volunteer policy." He said regular class trips conduct background checks on parents who sign up as chaperons. He said Heath wasn't a chaperon.
Lambert called the incident “a testament to society. Things are a lot more complicated than they used to be,” he said Tuesday.
Heath is being held without bail, and Wayne Sturdivant of the Maine Department of Corrections has signed a motion to revoke Heath's probation. According to Sturdivant's statement, on Oct. 10 Heath was terminated from sex offender counseling “for unsatisfactory participation in counseling. The counselor further stated that he believes Mr. Heath presents a danger to public safety,” Sturdivant wrote.
Heath is set to appear in Oxford County Superior Court in Paris on Nov. 6.