ROCKLAND, Maine — A judge rejected a plea deal Friday that would have sent a Searsmont woman to jail for six months for allegedly snatching her four children and taking them on a more than 1,000-mile drive.
“Any sense of justice requires that I say that this sentence is not appropriate,” Judge Susan Sparaco said in the case against Candice Owens, also known as Candice Bouchard. During Friday’s hearing, the defendant asked the judge to refer to her as Candice Bouchard.
Bouchard, 35, is charged with four counts each of criminal restraint by a parent and endangering the welfare of a child.
The proposed plea agreement called for two years in jail with all but six months suspended. Bouchard also would have been on probation for two years. In addition, the prosecution sought about $3,500 in restitution to compensate the children’s father for his travel and lodging expenses and lost wages for the two weeks he spent tracking down the children.
The rejection means Bouchard’s case could be scheduled for trial during a court session Monday.
The judge rejected the deal after a letter from the children’s father was read. The Rockport man said his children have gone through a nightmare after their mother took them during what was supposed to be a supervised visit in February. Court records indicate that she put the children in a two-seat cargo van and drove them to Louisiana. Bouchard was drinking as she drove the children, and they reported feeling the van drive over nearly every rumble strip along the way.
The father told the judge, through the letter read in court by the victim witness advocate, that he spent every penny he had on travel, lodging and lawyers in both Maine and Louisiana. He said his ex-wife had previously violated court orders and that the judicial system had failed the family many times in protecting the children from her.
He was able to find the children after his oldest daughter texted a photo to him of the motel where they were being kept.
At the time, the two older children were 14 and 10 and the twins were 4. The father has since obtained full custody of all four children.
Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody said there were few of these type of cases in which to look at comparable jail sentences.
Defense attorney Caleb Gannon said his client had accepted responsibility and that he considered the proposed agreement fair.
Sparaco said she would not accept any agreement that did not have Bouchard spend at least 18 months in jail.