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Doing The Right Thing After You've Done The Wrong Thing

Real Estate Agent with Better Homes & Gardens | The Masiello Group

So you have ROYALLY messed up!  You have done something you never imagined you would do.  You have destroyed something that can't completely be made whole again, hurt people's feelings, shaken a community, and others had to come behind you and try to put the pieces back together.

Now what?  Basically you have two choices.

You could blame others and rationalize your actions, as so many have tried to do with varying degrees of success, or you could tell the truth and face the consequences of your actions.

Such was the choice facing one young man in Lewiston Maine, and while what he did with two of his friends was reprehensible, he has chosen to "face the music" and deal directly with what he did.

A little over a week ago, vandals knocked over about 150 headstones at one of the historic cemeteries here in Auburn.  I wrote about this a few days ago because our local hockey team, the Lewiston MAINEiacs showed up to help repair the damage.

Last week, Billie Coburn, an 18 year old native of Lewiston was arrested for the crime along with two of his friends.  They are currently out on bail.  On Wednesday, Billie walked to the Sun Journal (our local paper) office in Lewiston and hand delivered letter of apology.  

While the letter will not repair the damage, I do encourage you to read it on the Sun Journal website.  I do find it encouraging and refreshing that a young man has chosen to admit what he did, apologize, and willingly accept the consequences of his actions.

This is the beginning of the healing process for all involved.



Posted by

The Maine Real Estate Network - Kristen Wheatley - Lewiston-Auburn Maine Real Estate

Maine Realtor Kristen Wheatley  

Kristen Wheatley is a Maine Realtor working and living in Central Maine.  She specializes in the sale of residential and investment property in the Lewiston-Auburn area and surrounding towns.  Kristen uses the latest tools and mobile technology to provide a superior experience and results for her clients and enjoys sharing these technology skills and teaching other real estate professionals and local small business owners.

The Maine Real Estate NetworkKristen Wheatley, Associate Broker
The Maine Real Estate Network
34 Center Street - Auburn ME 04210
207-240-2250     www.lamainerealestate.com

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Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good evening Kristen,

You are so right..it is the beginning of the healing process for all involved. Life will never be the same for him but he has taken the high road and will be a better person down the road.

Sep 02, 2010 01:49 PM
Diane Williams
Pell City, AL

Kristen,  Sometimes kids get mixed up with the wrong people and are in trouble before they know it.  I hope this young mans letter was from the heart, and his path will lead him in the right direction.  I hope the people he hurt by doing this will have forgiveness in their hearts.

Sep 02, 2010 01:58 PM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Evolution - 447 Boston Street, Suite #5, Topsfield, MA - Topsfield, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

He has taken a positive step. For complete healing the community and individuals must offer their forgiveness. He'll still face the consequences because all choices have consequences, whether good or bad.

Sep 02, 2010 01:58 PM
Don Sabinske
Don Sabinske, Sabinske & Associates Inc. - Zimmerman, MN
Sabinske & Associates Inc.

Kristen,  this is the first step in the right direction for this young man.  And, while the authorities may not be impressed nor the woman in charge of the cemetery, it was the right thing to do for him, his family and "his social circle."  With any luck, he will see that he may not want to keep company with others who have this sort of odd bent of behavior while drinking.  And, while he didn't harm the living, he still did by disrepecting their loved ones and relatives. 

Sad and senseless. 

Sep 02, 2010 02:08 PM

I believe everyone deserves a chance to make amends.  It looks to me like this young man has taken the first step on this road.  Yes, there was vandalism and a financial impact.  And not to make excuses for him, but this young man is barely that at age 18...still a kid, actually.  And a great many kids DO REALLY STUPID STUFF.  Maybe he should do community service to make up for the financial cost of the destruction?  I say good for him that he made this apology and is facing the music head on, so to speak.  We need to teach our kids to step up to the error of their ways.  I'm guessing kudos should also be given to his parents (or whoever the significant adult in his life is) - I suspect they are sonewhere behind the scenes since he is only 18.

Sep 02, 2010 02:08 PM
Roger D. Mucci
Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092 - Euclid, OH
Lets shake things up at your home today!

Great post Kristen................refreshing to see an apology from an 18 year old for what he did........his parents are to be commended also.

Sep 02, 2010 02:15 PM
Kristen Wheatley
Better Homes & Gardens | The Masiello Group - Brunswick, ME
Supporting Success - Best Job in the World!

Dorie, Doug, Don, Diane (hey three D's in a row) Roger, & Comment 5 (I wish I knew your name):

Yes, it is a start to healing.  I think the community's first reaction was one of suspicion and a little shock.  When these things happen, usually everyone gets justifiably all riled up, someone is caught and the community's anger can then be focused on that person.  In this case, this young man's disarming letter of apology has made everyone stop and think for a moment.  It is difficult to stay mad at someone who is admitting their guilt, seems to honestly feel ashamed and remorseful, and willing to take what is coming.

We all make mistakes when we are young, some worse than others, but I just don't know that many young people who would have stepped up like this afterwards.  I do think the community will forgive him and agree with you all, that this choice will make him a better person in the long run.

Sep 02, 2010 02:48 PM
1~Judi Barrett
Integrity Real Estate Services 116 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK


This speaks to the true character of the young man. 

Hopefully he can forgive himself... and those that were wronged can forgive him also.

Sep 02, 2010 02:55 PM
Jay Lloyd
Cape Coral Florida - Cape Coral, FL
Allpro Home Inspection

Hi Kristen, He sounds sincerely sorry for his actions. I remember doing some crazy stupid pranks as a kid myself and having to apologize. And this kid apologized publicly, against the advice of his attorney, so he says (Ms Burgess doesn't agree). I don't know what the punishment should be. Perhaps donating time (sweat equity) for the beautification of the graveyard. 18 years old, as Judge Judy would say "are not fully cooked" jay

Sep 02, 2010 04:30 PM
Scott Hayes
(512) 786-8300 - Austin, TX
Realty Austin, Broker Associate

Kristen- Interesting localism post. Interesting in a good way that is.


18 year old guys and alcohol aren't the best combination as I recall. As long as he's willing to accept the punishment given out to him.

Sep 02, 2010 05:52 PM
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Happily Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

Kristen....what are these kids thinking when they decide to do these destructive acts.....and vandalizing a cemetery is really ashame.....hope he is being honest about his feelings.....

Sep 02, 2010 08:56 PM
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond

kristen...it's said that their brain halves don't develop  until their mid 20's especially for boys which makes them follow the pack without reasoning...so unfortunate, but something kicked in with this kid to make a 1st step in the right direction which hopefully he'll stay on.  apologizing is realizing your own faults & weaknesses...if you can't do that what kind of person are you?

Sep 03, 2010 12:25 AM
Lisa Hicks
Hoang Realty - Augusta, ME
Serving Central and Southern Maine

Kristin - Comment 5 was me!  I don't know what happened last night...almost every comment I made showed up like this!  Gremlins?  (Most likely, operator error. )  :D 

Sep 03, 2010 01:36 AM
Kristen Wheatley
Better Homes & Gardens | The Masiello Group - Brunswick, ME
Supporting Success - Best Job in the World!

Judi:  I think most people will forgive in time, but think you hit the nail on the head.  I hope he can take the lessons learned from this and also forgive himself.

Jay:  Yes, many of us are fortunate that some of the antics in our younger days (when we were not "fully cooked") did not end up causing destruction or more trouble.  This young man still has not hired an attorney, so it seems this was done on his own.  We can never truly know what is in his head, but I did get the impression that he is sincere.  I think he would welcome a way to truly atone for this.

Scott:  It is the buzz around town this week.  I'm sure many people had the same reaction that I did when opening the paper in the morning.  My first thought was "good, they caught the guys," then reading further, it just brought a "wow, that's interesting."  I find it refreshing that someone so young is willing to take on the responsibility of what he has done when so many people much older and supposedly wiser, do not.

Sep 03, 2010 03:29 AM
Kristen Wheatley
Better Homes & Gardens | The Masiello Group - Brunswick, ME
Supporting Success - Best Job in the World!

Barbara:  I think that has been the problem through time, not just now.  They aren't thinking.  It is a shame.  As Scott said, 18 year old guys and alcohol are not a good combination.  I do think he is being sincere.  We can't know what is in his head & heart, but if we become so suspicious that we can't accept someones apology and acceptance of responsibility at face value, then all is lost.

Ginny:  That's a great point.  We all have to accept ourselves, flaws and all, before we can grow and learn.  For anyone who is curious about the inner workings of a teenager and the reasoning (or lack there of) behind the stats that cause auto insurance companies to charge higher rates until someone reaches the age of 25, there is a great book out there called NurtureShock that is quite enlightening.  As Jay said, they are not fully cooked.  Not an excuse, just brings a little understanding to the party.

Lisa:  Aha!  So, shall I call you Commenter #5?  It has a nice secret agent sound to it.  :)

Sep 03, 2010 03:38 AM
Malcolm Johnston
Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario - Trenton, ON
Trenton Real Estate

Kristen, we all make dumb mistakes, some people make very bad dumb mistakes. Let's hope that this man's apology was sincere and that people give him the benefit of the doubt. At the end of the day, no-body was hurt, and nothing was done that can't be repaired. The apology does show a certain amount of character, and maybe this experience will be a learning experience for the young man.

Sep 04, 2010 08:13 AM
Kristen Wheatley
Better Homes & Gardens | The Masiello Group - Brunswick, ME
Supporting Success - Best Job in the World!

I agree Malcolm.

Sep 04, 2010 03:54 PM
Charles Edwards Bentonville
Coldwell Banker Harris McHaney & Faucette 479-253-3796 - Bentonville, AR
AR REALTOR, Bentonville Real Estate Agent and Broker

I'm a person that believes in second chances, like many that have already responded.

Years ago I had an epiphany. Even when people do bad things they are likely doing the best they can do. Sounds initially like a strange thought  I know. Yet there is a bigger picture here than a single event or a single day in the life a young person, of course. I hope that this young man can look deeply into his life, put things in the right order and determine not to let moments like this difine him.

Great post Kristen.

Sep 05, 2010 08:40 AM
Kristen Wheatley
Better Homes & Gardens | The Masiello Group - Brunswick, ME
Supporting Success - Best Job in the World!

Thank you Charles for stating that so succinctly and eloquently. It can be easy for others to judge, but this is what can happen in the blink of an eye as a choice is made.  Second chances can mean the difference between the wrong path chosen and determining future wrong paths, or a turn towards a productive future. 

Sep 05, 2010 08:48 AM