PORTLAND, Maine — The father of toddler Ayla Reynolds, whose disappearance in late 2011 triggered the largest criminal investigation in Maine history, showed up late for a court appearance Thursday, then pleaded not guilty to an unrelated domestic violence charge, according to a Cumberland County clerk’s office spokeswoman.

When he did not initially appear in court, a warrant was issued for Justin DiPietro’s arrest, but that warrant was revoked after he appeared later Thursday morning to plead not guilty, the spokeswoman said by phone.

The Reynolds case remains unsolved.

According to Portland police, the child’s father, Justin DiPietro, was arrested on July 6 in the area of 88 Spring St., after a police lieutenant allegedly witnessed him grab and push a woman with whom he was arguing.

The police announcement at the time described the victim as a 25-year-old ex-girlfriend of DiPietro, and stated that the alleged assault occurred at approximately 11:15 p.m. The woman was not injured in the alleged assault, according to police, and DiPietro was released on bail.

The alleged crime was not associated with the disappearance of Reynolds, who went missing in December 2011 at 20 months old from the Waterville home where DiPietro was living at the time.

DiPietro has not been charged in connection with the disappearance, and around the one-year anniversary of the crime, police stated that they had “renewed communications” with DiPietro and his family members after previously saying they did not believe DiPietro had been forthcoming about the night of Reynolds’ disappearance.

State police officials stated in May 2012 that they believed it would be “ highly unlikely” that they would find Reynolds alive. That revelation came four months after police confirmed that the child’s blood had been discovered in the basement of the Waterville home and that they had ruled out abduction in the case.

DiPietro is not the first family member of Ayla Reynolds to face unrelated charges since her disappearance, which attracted nationwide media attention. In late May, Portland police were allegedly forced to use a Taser to subdue the child’s maternal grandfather, Ronald Reynolds, after charging him with threatening a family member with a knife.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.