Community Concepts driver suspended, accused of sexually touching client

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OXFORD — A 45-year-old volunteer driver for Community Concepts was accused Tuesday of sexually touching a mentally handicapped woman he was taking to her home in Poland,  police said Wednesday.

Lawrence Thomas of Wing Street in Lisbon Falls was charged with assault and unlawful sexual touching. He was issued a summons to appear in 11th District Court in Paris on June 17.

Oxford police Lt. Michael Ward, who investigated the complaint, said the alleged incident occurred at about 1 p.m. after Thomas pulled off King Street onto a dead-end road. He was accused of assaulting and sexually touching the 23-year-old woman who was riding in the front seat.

“The girl came forward with her parents. That’s how it was discovered,” police Chief Jon Tibbetts said Wednesday. He said Thomas has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

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Thomas is the second Community Concepts volunteer driver to be accused of a sex crime against a client this year. Last month, 74-year-old Errol Hammond of Wilton was suspended after his arrest on charges of gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact. Hammond was charged with sexually assaulting a 31-year-old mentally handicapped woman he was taking to her home in Wilton in March.

Michael Burke, chief executive officer of Community Concepts, was unavailable for comment on Wednesday. Community Concepts’ director for community advancement Jim Wilkins previously told the Sun Journal that volunteer drivers are given yearly background, criminal, and motor vehicle record checks.

The Community Concepts MaineCare Transportation Program provides free transportation to medical appointments for people who are eligible for MaineCare but cannot drive. About 375 volunteer drivers operate in Oxford, Androscoggin and Franklin counties and receive mileage reimbursement.

mlangeveld@sunjournal.com

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