What happened to Sparky?
April 4, 2005 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Do any 30-ish people from Maine or thereabouts remember Sparky? He was a childrens' entertainer with a newspaper column (Lewiston Sunday SJ Kids' Section), and then he was caught molesting kids or something and there was a trial and some such, but I was more interested in Transformers at the time. Where the hell can I find more info about the case? Did it even happen or have I fabricated this?

No, Sparky never touched me. He came to my school to make a presentation, but he probably didn't touch anyone in front of a crowded gymnasium. Anyway, I was recalling what I knew about Sparky over dinner tonight, and I'm disappointed that googling things like "sparky maine children pervert" isn't giving any results. Even the guy's real name would be a big start.
posted by Mayor Curley to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
YES! I remember Sparky! He apparently made the rounds in New England and the Atlantic Coast: I grew up in a suburb of NYC. He came to our school, gave a spoken-word performance once or twice, and was the absolute toast of the school for weeks. (This was maybe 1982.) He was, as I recall, pretty funny. His magnum opus was "The Battle in the Bathtub," which MeFi user gonadostat, who grew up in the same town as me, has a copy of. Pester him and he'll copy it for you - tell him I sent you.

You are absolutely right about the child molestation thing, too. I remember it was quite the scandal in my elementary school. There were Sparky jokes for years and years after.

I believe his name was Richard Sparks. I'm positive about the surname, not about the first name, though.

I Googled around a bit and couldn't find anything, but will contact gonadostat. I bet he'll know.
posted by Dr. Wu at 6:13 PM on April 4, 2005

OH My!

Off the top of my head I remember that there was a follow-up to "Battle in the Bathtub" the not quite as catchy "Battle in the Sink". He came several times to my elementary school and I did at one time own two of his books. Sadly, these were probably lost when my parents moved last year.

Mom Gonadostat informs me that he lived in Maine.

I will continue to search and report back with any new info.
posted by gonadostat at 6:52 PM on April 4, 2005

His name was Richard Sparks, and he could be, I suppose, considered a 'minor children's poet'. I knew Mr. Sparks because he was a camp counselor at a camp I worked at in the early 1980's.

He did, indeed, plead guilty to some assorted "looking at children in inappropriate ways" charges -- the thing that stands out in my mind to this day was that some of the evidence presented against him in court was photos of kids (boys and girls) in swimsuits taken at camp. It struck me at the time that I had an entire album of similar photos.

Google brings up nothing useful for me, however. I believe the charges against him were brought circa 1985-1986.
posted by anastasiav at 7:24 AM on April 5, 2005

Interestingly, nothing turns up on the Maine Sex Offender Database under that name -- which means that either a) he died b) he moved out of state or c) his 'manditory registration time' has expired.
posted by anastasiav at 7:45 AM on April 5, 2005

I thought Sex Offender Databases didn't come around until the 90s?
posted by angry modem at 8:30 AM on April 5, 2005

Response by poster: Assuming he's even been released, he probably wasn't released until well into the 90's.

My mom recalls there being naked Polaroids or something-- he apparently threw them out on the Maine Turnpike and they were discovered because he was under surveillance. But she isn't sure that she's not mixing the details with some other publicized case.

Of course, it certainly is possible, as anastasiav suggests, that he was a victim of witch hunt. Gerald Amirault just got of jail and he didn't do anything. The 80's were dark times.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:09 AM on April 5, 2005

Of course, it certainly is possible, as anastasiav suggests, that he was a victim of witch hunt

I don't remember anything about naked Polaroids or tossing them out the window. I've always thought, actually (based on working with him for two entire summers at a children's camp) that he probably was not guilty -- more a man who related better to children than adults than any kind of adult who was actually a threat to children, but I do distinctly remember that he pled guilty before the trial began.

That makes me think that there was probably more than was apparent on the surface.
posted by anastasiav at 12:50 PM on April 5, 2005

I remember this case only vaguely because I went to high school with a pair of sisters who were related to him (I don't recall if he was their father, uncle, cousin, or whatever).

I don't remember the details playing out exactly the way anastasiav does, but she seems to have a better source of info than my own hazy memories. I'm not sure he even did any serious jail time because the case against him was not all that good.
posted by briank at 3:00 PM on April 5, 2005

Best answer: I know all about Sparky; my father testified in the case and I found some old video. Sparky pled Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity; he claimed that his other personality, Richard, did things to children that he documented and when Sparky "awoke" and found the photos, he threw them into a dumpster. A passing Maine State Trooper saw him, thought it looked suspicious, and checked the dumpster. In the photos one could clearly see his tattoo.
In the trial, "Sybil"s doctor, Cornelia Wilbur, testified that Sparky was unaware of Richard's actions and was suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder, now known as Dissociative Disorder. My father testified that he was faking mental illness, and in truth was simply in denial of his crimes. He was found guilty, and sentenced to 10 years at Thomaston. He served 6 years and many years of probation which included a lot of therapy. He now accepts his responsibility, and has changed a lot. I think he may have moved out of state, he's not in the database as Richard Sparks.
posted by staceyes at 1:13 PM on March 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

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