Lawmaker. Coach. Director. Predator.
Westbrook State Rep. Dillon Bates should not be near your daughters
by Chris Busby
Dillon Bates’ Twitter bio reads as follows: “Trained as an actor. Currently plays roles of State Representative, Dad, Teacher, Coach, Director, Citizen, Dog Enthusiast and Human. Plays none of them well.”
Consider that a warning. There’s strong reason to believe this is not an attempt at humor, but a statement of fact, or even an admission of guilt. Bates, who recently turned 30, is not who he appears to be. He has used some (if not all) of those “roles” to get close to teenage girls. Though he holds positions of authority over them, Bates is casual and sociable with high school students, flirty and fun. He has used a combination of charm and deception to manipulate female students into sexual relationships with him.
Bates has engaged in at least three romantic and/or sexual relationships with high school girls over the past half decade. The Bollard has not been able to determine with certainty whether those relationships became sexual before the victims turned 18. But according to victim testimony and the accounts of others, Bates groomed girls for these inappropriate relationships well before they graduated from high school. This includes students who attended Maine Girls’ Academy, the private all-girls’ school where he worked as a music and drama teacher and coach for years before he unexpectedly resigned last November under suspicious circumstances.
“He was the one who kind of initiated the relationship,” said one of the victims. “I kinda [went along] with it because I was flattered this older guy was interested in me. He was very flattering and made me feel like I was an important person. … It’s super predatory behavior. He basically coerced me into a lot of things I didn’t want to do [sexually] using a lot of lying and manipulation.”
This victim spoke to The Bollard on condition of anonymity, because she fears a confrontation not only with Bates, but also his live-in girlfriend, Janelle LoSciuto, who recently gave birth to their second child. LoSciuto is well aware of Bates’ highly unethical relationships with high school girls, and has engaged in efforts to compel girls to keep the affairs quiet. “She knows a lot of things that have happened,” the victim said. “She’s complicit in a lot of shit he does and just [goes along] with it because they want to appear as this power couple.”
The couple shares a modest apartment on Garfield Street, in Westbrook, where LoSciuto, a singer, has given voice lessons to teens, including girls her boyfriend has taught or coached. No one answered the door when I visited the apartment last month, though it appeared that someone was home. A message left on Bates’ cell phone, requesting comment from him and LoSciuto, was not returned.
According to press reports and voters’ guides, Bates grew up in Winterport, the son of two teachers. He earned bachelor degrees in theater and political science in 2011 from the University of Maine, and has been very active in Democratic politics, including service as President of the Cumberland County Young Democrats. In 2012, he challenged fellow Democrat Matt Moonen for the seat in the Maine House representing Portland’s West End, but lost that primary. By 2014, he’d moved to Westbrook, where he handily won the race for an open Maine House seat vacated by another Dem. He easily won re-election two years later, but last March the Bangor Daily News reported that Bates does not intend to seek a third term this fall.
Bates made the papers in the spring of 2017, when he was fined by the Maine Ethics Commission for failing to return over $2,600 in public campaign funds left over from the 2014 and ’16 races. The Portland Press Herald reported that staff from the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices “contacted Bates directly 11 times” over a two-month period to inform him that he had to return the money. Bates eventually complied, but had to add hundreds of dollars of his own cash to make up the difference, thus mingling public and private funds in a way that also broke the rules. He claimed he had been working between 75 and 80 hours every week and was unable to find the time to visit a bank branch to withdraw the funds in person.
“He is a really good liar,” said the young victim who spoke to us. “He can lie without breaking a sweat or getting nervous. … He lied about random shit that didn’t make sense. … He’s very charismatic and very charming, and can get himself out of a lot of situations because of it.”
Bates has coached female athletes at numerous high schools, including Bonny Eagle, in Standish; Greeley High School, in Cumberland; and Massabesic High School, in Waterboro, where he is apparently still employed. E-mail and phone messages left for Massabesic Athletic Director Brendan Scully were not returned before deadline, but Bates has been tweeting about the team’s accomplishments as recently as last month.
Bates worked for three years at Catherine McAuley High School and its successor, Maine Girls’ Academy (MGA). Located on Stevens Avenue, in Portland, MGA was formed in 2016 as a private, nonprofit college-prep school. McAuley, the state’s last all-girls Catholic school, had operated there for decades.
The MGA board abruptly closed the school earlier this summer, citing supposedly insurmountable financial challenges that had not previously been disclosed to staff and parents. Some members of the school community suspect the Dillon Bates situation was a contributing factor in their decision — that in this new #metoo moment, it was only a matter of time before Bates’ indiscretions were exposed.
According to several members of the MGA community, top administrators were made aware of an issue involving Bates on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year. The following Monday, it was announced that Bates was on administrative leave. The next day, Nov. 28, community members got an e-mail from Head of School Amy Jolly informing them that Bates had resigned “to devote more time to his many other professional activities.” No further information was publicly provided.
That explanation made no sense to Bates’ colleagues and students. Why would a single father, with another baby on the way, abruptly quit his full-time job — a job he appeared to really enjoy — not even halfway through the school year? There’s no indication that Bates had another job lined up, other than seasonal, part-time work coaching girls’ track at Massabesic in the spring. His position as a state legislator does not provide a livable wage, either.
The real reason Bates left without warning soon circulated among the small MGA community, which included 90 students. Community members I spoke with declined to be named or quoted, citing the sensitive nature of the matter, but the general outline of the story they all shared, in separate interviews, is as follows:
- Bates was involved in a romantic relationship with an MGA student last fall.
- His live-in girlfriend, LoSciuto, discovered evidence of the affair and contacted the student.
- The student felt threatened or disturbed by the communication from LoSciuto and alerted a trusted MGA staff member, who in turn alerted top administrators on the weekend after Thanksgiving.
- Administrators were made privy to e-mail correspondence between the student and Bates that was sexually explicit in nature.
- Bates acknowledged to administrators that the communications were sexual in nature and inappropriate. An agreement was made that he would resign immediately.
- The victimized student and her parents did not wish to pursue the matter further, in part to spare the girl further trauma.
In keeping with the wishes of the student and her parents, administrators tried to keep the affair secret, but the nature of Bates’ transgression was shared directly with some community members outside the tight circle at the top. In addition, more than a few members of the student body knew about the situation all along. Others had no idea why their favorite teacher had suddenly vanished, and it upset them. In an effort to mollify those students, administrators gave them “thank you” cards to write farewell or appreciation notes to Bates. The idea of Bates returning to the school to say a proper goodbye was apparently off the table.
According to multiple sources, a condition of Bates’ resignation was that he have no further contact with MGA students. But Bates continued to communicate with some students via text, according to several sources, and he showed up at an MGA school play later that winter. It’s believed that some MGA students have continued to take voice lessons from LoSciuto in the apartment she shares with Bates.
Last May, writing on behalf of the entire student body, roughly two-thirds of the girls who attended the school signed a letter to MGA leadership demanding an “open conversation” about the changes that had taken place in the past year. “The Maine Girls’ Academy is advertised to be ‘a safe environment …’ yet many students have expressed concerns otherwise,” the letter read. Bates was not mentioned by name, but he was among the reasons some kids were concerned.
Also this past May, Schoolhouse Arts Center — a community theater in Standish where Bates is the education director — staged a production of the play Once Upon a Mattress. Actor Danny Gay, a friend of Bates’, directed that show. Word got around among the teens that Bates was planning to attend a performance. Gay said more than one girl involved in the production, including an MGA student, asked him to contact Bates and tell him not to come, because the girls “didn’t feel comfortable with him attending the event,” he said. Bates complied with Gay’s request and stayed away that night.
Gay, who also runs educational programs for youth at Schoolhouse, said he’s been pals with Bates for three years. He said he did not know why his friend and colleague suddenly quit MGA, and did not ask the girls why Bates’ presence at the play would make them “uncomfortable.” “Dillon works well with students and is a good role model for them,” Gay told me.
A call to Schoolhouse Arts board president Cristina McBreairty requesting comment about Bates was not returned.
Bates and LoSciuto have been active in Maine community theater for years. The couple recently launched a new drama company in Westbrook, called Presumpscot Stage, which debuted with a production of Urinetown last month, at Westbrook High School. Bates is on the board of the Maine Educational Theater Association, and LoSciuto is on the board of the Maine Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, according to a recent article about Presumpscot Stage. The couple expressed an interest in working with students at Westbrook Regional Vocational Center “for set construction and other backstage work,” according to Current reporter Michael Kelley.
One reason Bates and LoSciuto decided to start their own company may be the fact that some people in the local theater community, aware of the couple’s unethical actions, have alerted other community theaters in the area, effectively blackballing them. Members of the Westbrook School Committee were also contacted by concerned community members, because Presumpscot Stage used the high school for its recent production. A property owner who had considered renting space to the couple for rehearsals backed out after hearing those concerns, sources said. Bates and LoSciuto told Kelley they hope to establish their own performance space in Westbrook, potentially with the help of city officials and taxpayers.
Sources say Westbrook police have been informed of Bates’ inappropriate relationships with teen girls, but likely lack sufficient evidence to take action. When Bates resigned from MGA, staff members alerted the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, in accordance with the state law that mandates that educators report suspected cases of abuse of minors. Sources told The Bollard that at least one DHHS investigator felt they were being stonewalled by the MGA administration. The loud sound of a paper shredder could be heard in Jolly’s office shortly after a call came in from a DHHS investigator late last year. Later that winter, staff were specifically instructed not to discuss personnel matters with the press or public.
I visited MGA last month, unannounced, and found Jolly in her office. I informed her that I was working on a story about Bates. She refused to allow me to record an interview. She said that according to school policy, all she could disclose about Bates were the dates of his employment. I made the point that given the nature of the circumstances that are widely believed to have led to his resignation, the community had a compelling interest to know what was up. Jolly said something to the effect that she “wished” the policy were different, but reiterated that she had to follow it.
I repeated what she had just said — that she wished the policy were different — to confirm that I’d heard that right. “That’s not what I said,” Jolly told me, getting testy. She then requested that I leave her office, and I promptly complied.
“He did a lot of shitty things to me physically, sexually and emotionally,” the victim told me. She said she was speaking out because, “I just don’t want him to have the opportunity to do this to more people. … I don’t want him to work at any more schools.”
“I wish there was somebody that could have told me and warned me,” she continued. “I want people to know this is a monster we’re dealing with.” Appearances, and tweets, to the contrary, Bates is “not a good person, he’s not helping anybody. He’s putting himself in a position of power because that gets him what he wants. Another fucked-up politician.”