By Jim Holt
For The Signal
Homeless, living in a motel with five kids, was hard enough for Michael Grant and his wife in Maine, but then they befriended the Valencia man who turned their family upside down, convicted on multiple counts of sexual assault, now waiting to be sentenced.
Avery Spencer Miller, 28, of Valencia, was indicted in Maine on eight counts of unlawful sexual contact, convicted on six of those counts in May.
It was May 19, Michael Grant’s birthday, when the jury returned after nine hours with guilty verdicts on six counts.
“The first thing out of their mouths was ‘guilty, guilty, guilty.’ I did everything I could not to reach over the rail and grab him,” Grant said.
Now, hoping to prevent one more child from being assaulted, Grant wants parents across America to know what happened when they befriended the “traveling camp counselor.”
“I treated him like a brother,” he told The Signal in a phone interview from Maine Friday.
Now, after the trauma and the court case, he says: “I want his face to get all over America because he’s been everywhere.”
“I know there’s more children out there that need to know that he’s in jail,” Grant said. “And that it’s OK for them to come forward. That he can’t hurt them no more.”
When Miller lived in Santa Clarita, he lived near the Valencia Library.
About six years ago, he went to Maine, where met the Grant family.
“We were homeless, living in a motel with five children,” Grant said, reflecting on that initial encounter.
“We met another family, that was a large family like ours, six kids. We had five, they had six. And we became real good friends.”
“They introduced us to Mr. Miller. He was a friend of theirs. He lived with them for a couple of years and we became friends.”
“We treated him like family. He stayed with us periodically, here and there. He’d go out west, run the camps, work at camps. He was a traveling camp counselor.”
Miller, according to Grant, worked at camps across the country, including New York, New Hampshire and Idaho.
The friendship ended abruptly, however, on a night in May 2019 when Grant’s wife “caught him under a blanket with my youngest daughter (then age 5),” he said.
She kicked Miller out of the house.
“He’s lucky my wife threw him out and didn’t wake me up that night,” Grant said.
Miller denied the allegations of sexual assault, Grant said, and asked to take a lie detector test. He failed it and asked for a do-over. He never showed up (with the results) of the second polygraph test.
“He failed both of them,” Grant said. “And then we couldn’t bring it up at trial. That’s one of the things I didn’t like.”
Each of his children, he said, had been sexually assaulted.
“They’re all in counseling. They’ve been in counseling since day one…. I tell them every day, ‘Don’t hang on to it. Talk to your therapist about it, talk to me about it,’” he said.
Since his ordeal began, Grant has learned of other victims — specifically, about a warrant issued for Miller’s arrest in Idaho.
“He traumatized an 8-year-old boy in Idaho,” Grant said.
On Sept. 18, 2020, Avery Spencer Miller was found guilty of injuring a child — a misdemeanor — in Magistrate Court in Jerome County, Idaho, court papers show. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail.
Grant wanted to help.
“I ended up calling the prosecutor in Idaho — after we got a conviction — to let her know.”
“I don’t know who the family is or the circumstances. I just know there was a little kid involved and you just need to let them know that Mr. Miller will no longer, ever, hurt another child ever again.”
“Because she may not have gotten justice for that child there but we got justice for him here,” he said.
How are his own kids doing now?
“They’re doing good,” Grant said.
After several painful interviews with state police, court officials and state agencies, they emerged better for having talked about it.
“Most parents, they don’t want to deal with the stuff we had to go through. I mean, we went through hell,” he said.
Miller, meanwhile, remains in jail.
According to Alyson Cummings, legal publications specialist for the Androscoggin County Superior Court in Maine: “Miller was convicted of several felony counts in May 2022. He is currently at the Androscoggin County Jail waiting for a sentencing date to be scheduled.”