Prominent local author and educator Nancie Atwell has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge stemming from an incident at Renys in Damariscotta in March.
The court will dismiss the charge in two years if Atwell, the founder of the Center for Teaching and Learning in Edgecomb and winner of the first $1 million Global Teacher Prize, follows the terms of an agreement known as a deferred disposition, according to court documents.
The agreement bans Atwell from all Renys stores. She must complete a psychological evaluation and, if necessary, counseling, and must prove that she is donating the $1 million prize to CTL in accordance with her previous pledge to do so. She must complete 100 hours of community service and refrain from all criminal conduct.
Atwell, 64, of Southport, pleaded guilty to class E theft by unauthorized taking at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Wiscasset on Monday, June 13.
Newcastle attorney William Avantaggio is representing Atwell and entered the guilty plea on her behalf.
Damariscotta Police Chief Ron Young summonsed Atwell March 30 after reviewing Renys surveillance footage. The footage showed Atwell remove a $14.99 white button-up shirt from a hanger, place it in her bag, replace the empty hanger on the rack, and leave the store.
Avantaggio said he thinks the deferred disposition is a reasonable outcome for all parties and provides a known outcome for Atwell.
In April, Atwell was also summonsed for a charge of class E theft by unauthorized taking stemming from a 2014 incident in Portland.
Surveillance footage from Bliss Boutique at 58 Exchange St. in Portland showed a woman remove a $330 cashmere sweater from the store on Feb. 2, 2014. The Portland Police Department was unable to identify the woman at the time.
After reviewing the February 2014 tape again after widespread publicity of Atwell’s involvement in the Damariscotta case, Portland police said they identified the woman as Atwell. Young delivered the summons from the Portland Police Department on April 19.
Avantaggio said the Portland charge is pending and declined additional comment.
Atwell established the Center for Teaching and Learning in Edgecomb in 1990. She is the author of several books about education, including the bestseller “In the Middle.” She won the $1 million Global Teacher Prize in March 2015.