Former USM student body president arrested for arson

Posted on January 21, 2014 in News
By Kirsten Sylvain

Thomas &quotTJ" Williams
Cumberland County Sheriff's Office
Thomas "TJ" Williams

Former USM student body president, resident assistant and fraternity member TJ Williams was arrested at the home of his parents in Mexico, ME on Monday on two counts of arson.

According to a statement released by Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, the fire was set in a recycling closet on the third floor of Upton-Hastings Hall in Gorham where Williams was an RA at the time. Willaims was also Student Body President at the time.

The fire was reported at 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 3, 2012 and quickly extinguished by the building’s sprinkler system.  Two-hundred students were evacuated from the building and allowed to return between five and six a.m. that day, and an investigation into the fire that began later that day quickly determined that it was arson.

No one was injured by the fire, according to Bob Caswell, executive director of Public Affairs at USM, and no fire damage was done beyond the closet, but parts of the building, primarily on the third floor, sustained water damage. The total cost of the damage, Caswell said, was $2,100, for which Williams was billed and has paid as restitution to the university.

Williams, who was elected student body president in the spring of 2012, disappeared from campus in the fall of 2012 due to what were termed “personal circumstances.” After five weeks of absence from campus and his duties as president, the senate voted during an executive session to remove him from his post (covered in an October article).

Williams was indicted earlier this month by the Cumberland County Grand Jury and is scheduled to appear in court this week in the Cumberland County Superior Court.

According to the Maine criminal code, arson is a Class A crime punishable by up to 30 years incarceration and a fine of $50,000.