Wife testifies in Gouldsboro rape trial against estranged husband

Vladek Filler, second from right, and his sister Tatyana Roberts, right, listen to comments from Edward Bartlett Ph.D.(left) president of the Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, during Thursday morning's press conference in front of the Penobscot Judical Center. Vladek came to the Penobscot Judicial Center for a change-of-venue hearing for his appeal of a case in which he says he was wrongly accused by his ex-wife and wrongly prosecuted.
Vladek Filler, second from right, and his sister Tatyana Roberts, right, listen to comments from Edward Bartlett Ph.D.(left) president of the Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, during Thursday morning's press conference in front of the Penobscot Judical Center. Vladek came to the Penobscot Judicial Center for a change-of-venue hearing for his appeal of a case in which he says he was wrongly accused by his ex-wife and wrongly prosecuted.
Posted May 24, 2011, at 3:25 p.m.
Last modified May 24, 2011, at 5:42 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — The wife of a man on trial for allegedly raping her in their Gouldsboro home in 2007 testified tearfully Tuesday in Hancock County Superior Court that he screamed insults at her during the incident.

Called as the first witness in the retrial of Vladek Filler, his wife sobbed repeatedly on the witness stand late Tuesday morning as she described some of the incidents in which she said her estranged husband assaulted her. Filler and his wife are getting divorced, but the divorce is not yet final, she told the jury.

The 41-year-old woman told the jury that in December 2005 there was an incident in which Filler was angry with her and yelling at her in the bathroom of their former Gouldsboro home. She said she could not remember why Filler was angry, but that twice he threw water from a cup into her face as he screamed at her.

“He was insulting me,” she said as she tried to keep her emotions in check on the witness stand.

 She said he called her vulgar names and said she was worthless.

“He called me all kinds of things,” she said.

The alleged rape, she told the jury, occurred in April 2007. She said her husband did not want her to use the family car, but that she did so to make it to a haircut appointment.

When she returned home, Filler stormed into the kitchen from another room and assaulted her, she said.

“‘Who the …. do you think you are?’” she said Filler yelled at her as he grabbed her and threw her about the room. “I told you not to use the car.”

The altercation continued into the nearby bathroom, where she said he pinned her against the laundry machines and forcibly sodomized her.

“I couldn’t get out,” she testified, sobbing through tears on the stand. “He kept insulting me.”

Filler, 41, was originally tried on the allegations in early 2009 and found guilty. But the trial judge and then the state supreme court ordered a retrial after Filler argued that the case’s previous prosecutor, Assistant Hancock County District Attorney Mary Kellett,  inappropriately raised during closing arguments an issue that had been barred from testimony.

Paul Cavanaugh, first assistant district attorney for Hancock County, is the prosecutor for Filler’s retrial.

In March, Filler’s defense attorney, Stephen C. Smith of Bangor, filed a motion to have the trial moved to Portland because, he argued, media coverage of the case would make it difficult for Filler to get a fair trial in Hancock County. The presiding judge in Filler’s retrial, Robert Murray, denied the motion earlier this month.

Cavanaugh and Smith each made an opening statement to the jury Tuesday morning. The jury consists of eight women and seven men, including three alternates.

Cavanaugh summarized the allegations against Filler in his opening statement, saying Filler assaulted his wife twice and raped her once.

Smith suggested to the jury in his opening remarks that Filler’s wife made up the allegations because she and Filler were in a custody battle over their two sons and that she was mentally unstable at the time the allegations arose. Smith said Filler is expected to testify in his own defense. The older of the 14- and 5-year-old boys, who are now in the custody of their father, also is expected to testify, the defense attorney told the jury.

Filler’s wife continued testifying Tuesday afternoon, telling the jury about the timeline of events in her life that led up to and followed the alleged assaults. She testified that, in another alleged assault, Filler refused to let her use the tap water in the house and physically threw her out of the bathroom, bruising her arm in the process.

Dr. John Lorenz, a psychologist appointed as guardian ad litem of Filler’s children during the Fillers’ subsequent divorce proceedings, also testified Tuesday. Though Lorenz was called as a prosecution witness, he testified under cross examination by Smith that Filler had custody of their two sons throughout the divorce process. Lorenz also said he recommended that Filler keep custody of the boys after the divorce was final. Lorenz said that in 2009, during Filler’s first trial, he recommended that the boys live with Filler’s mother and sister in suburban Atlanta if their father was sent to jail.

Testimony stopped for the day around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday after Cavanaugh finished questioning Filler’s wife. Testimony is expected to resume at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday with Filler’s wife being cross-examined by Smith.

The trial tentatively is expected to conclude sometime on Thursday.

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