Man convicted of raping wife seeks venue change in retrial

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Posted April 04, 2011, at 6:30 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine —- A former Gouldsboro resident who is expected to get retried on a rape charge next month is asking that his new trial be held outside of Hancock County.

Vladek Filler, 41, is claiming that his case has received too much media attention in eastern Maine for him to get a fair trial, according to documents filed in Hancock County Superior Court. Filler was arrested in April 2007 on multiple charges and later, in January 2009, was convicted by a jury of one count of gross sexual assault and two counts of assault against his wife. Those convictions subsequently were overturned by Justice Kevin Cuddy when he ordered a retrial in Filler’s case.

Filler’s attorney, Stephen C. Smith of Bangor, cited 11 newspaper articles in a motion he filed March 29 in Superior Court on behalf of his client. The articles and comments made in them by Assistant Hancock County District Attorney Mary Kellett have been “extensive and persuasive”

and have been “designed to engender ill will toward [Filler],” he wrote.

“Publicity in this case has been high profile and fanned by the prosecution,” Smith wrote in the document. “The defense respectfully asserts that any impartial jury and a fair trial can only be gained through a change of venue to Portland, Maine.”

In an email Monday, Smith declined to comment on his change of venue motion or about media coverage of his client’s case. He wrote in the email that Filler lives out of state with his two sons. Smith indicated in the email that he plans to file a motion seeking to have Filler’s felony gross sexual assault charge dismissed.

The Hancock County District Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, had not filed a response to Filler’s motion by Monday afternoon. First Assistant District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh, who will be the prosecutor for Filler’s new trial, could not be reached Monday for comment.

Aside from the attention Filler’s case has received in print media, it also has received and continues to receive a lot of attention on the Internet, where several websites and blogs have criticized Kellett’s former handling of the case. Kellett was the prosecutor who presented the state’s case against Filler at his previous trial.

Kellett declined last week to comment about the Filler case.

Several websites and blogs encourage supporters of Filler’s cause to contact the media and state officials about Filler’s situation and Kellett’s handling of the case. One of the sites is called “A Voice for Men” while another is called “Anti Misandry — Curing Feminist Indoctrination.” Other such websites include or are maintained by National Coalition For Men, Fillerfund.com, and The False Rape Society.

Another group that supports Filler, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, last week issued a press release in which it claims to have filed a complaint against Kellett with the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar, seeking her disbarment. An official with the state agency, citing its confidentiality policy, declined last week to confirm whether the agency had received any such complaint about Kellett.

Last September, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld a decision to grant Filler a retrial, saying that testimony that was barred from Filler’s trial should have been allowed. After Filler was convicted, he requested and was granted a new trial by Cuddy, the trial judge. Kellett then appealed Cuddy’s decision to the state supreme court.

Filler’s defense attorney at the time, Daniel Pileggi of Ellsworth, was barred by Cuddy during the first trial from introducing testimony about attempts by Filler’s wife to gain custody of their two young sons. Filler claimed the marriage was deteriorating and that his wife fabricated the assault allegations in order to gain custody of the children.

Kellett had argued that allowing such testimony during Filler’s trial would confuse jurors about the issue they were being asked to decide, which was the assault allegations, not the custody dispute. Cuddy agreed to prohibit testimony about the wife’s efforts to gain custody of the boys, but did allow Pileggi to tell jurors that the marriage was disintegrating and that a custody dispute was likely.

But after the trial, in response to a motion from Filler for a retrial, Cuddy ruled that Kellett went too far with some of her comments in her closing argument. Kellett had said there was no evidence of a child custody dispute, which Cuddy said warranted a retrial because he had barred any testimony about the child custody dispute.

The Law Court later decided that testimony about the child custody dispute should have been allowed in the trial, and agreed with Cuddy that Kellett “amplified” that prejudice in her closing argument. The Law Court ruled last September in favor of Cuddy’s retrial order.

Filler’s new trial is tentatively scheduled to take place in Hancock County Superior Court in May.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/04/04/news/man-asks-for-change-of-venue-in-rape-retrial/ printed on July 31, 2014