A former Gouldsboro resident has reached a settlement with more than a dozen law enforcement and criminal prosecution officials in Maine over a case in which he was accused of raping his then-wife.
According to a report by WABI, Vladek Filler has received a settlement of $375,000.
After two trials Filler, now 48, eventually was found guilty of simple assault — a conviction that later was vacated by the state — but has consistently maintained that he was falsely accused by his ex-wife as part of a child custody case that he won.
Besides filing a federal civil lawsuit against police officers, prosecutors and other witnesses in his case, Filler filed a complaint about former prosecutor Mary Kellett with the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar, which resulted in Kellett becoming the first prosecutor in recent memory to be publicly sanctioned by the state over prosecutorial misconduct. Kellett, who now works as a defense attorney, prosecuted Filler at his first trial in 2009.
Filler, who now lives in suburban Atlanta, was contacted via email but declined to say how much money he is getting in the settlement.
“I am grateful to all my attorneys but most of all I am grateful for my strong family and my two amazing children who I have been blessed to see grow up,” Filler wrote in a statement Monday night.
Without providing any examples or data, Filler added that “many men” in Hancock and Washington counties have been victims of false allegations and prosecutions, and that such allegations, especially when made during impending divorces and child custody disputes, are “very common and very destructive.” He said he hopes his case serves as an example for others in similar situations.
“I also hope state and local authorities will take appropriate actions to protect due process rights of falsely accused men,” he said.
Filler and his supporters say the monetary settlement is the first ever reached in Maine over a wrongful prosecution.
A message left Monday for Cassandra Shaffer and Peter Marchesi, Waterville attorneys who represented many of the defendants in Filler’s lawsuit, was not returned. Attempts Tuesday morning to contact Filler’s attorneys, Thomas Hallett and David Weyrens, were unsuccessful.
Linda Gleason — a registered nurse and friend of Filler’s ex-wife who, according to federal court documents, encouraged her to cry during a police interview about the alleged assault to make it “seem real” — remains the one defendant in the case who has not settled with Filler. Contact information for Gleason, who according to federal court documents now lives in Missouri, was unavailable.
Filler was accused of sexually assaulting his then-wife at their Gouldsboro home in April 2007. He denied the allegations, arguing his wife fabricated her accusations in order to gain leverage in a looming custody dispute over the couple’s two sons. Filler later was granted full custody of the boys in his subsequent divorce from his wife.
Filler was charged with two counts of gross sexual assault and three counts of simple assault and, at the end of a January 2009 trial, was found guilty of one gross sexual assault charge and two assault charges. That conviction later was thrown out, however, after the trial judge ruled Kellett had made inappropriate comments during her closing remarks to the jury.
At his retrial in May 2011, which was prosecuted by Paul Cavanaugh, who now works as a prosecutor in Kennebec County, Filler was acquitted of gross sexual assault but was convicted on one simple assault charge and served 21 days in jail.
After his first trial, Filler filed a complaint against Kellett with the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar. He accused her of violating rules of the bar with comments she made during his January 2009 trial and by failing to provide evidence to Filler he believed supported his innocence.
In 2012, Filler testified to the board that, in her closing arguments to the jury, Kellett referred to the lack of evidence of a custody dispute in the case, even though there was such evidence and the judge had barred attorneys from introducing any of it into testimony.
He also told the board that before his first trial, Kellett inadequately responded to requests from his defense attorney for documents and other investigative materials and that she improperly advised an Ellsworth police officer not to comply with a subpoena from Filler’s attorney — despite a 2008 court ruling that ordered Kellett to hand over the requested materials to the defense attorney. Filler eventually was able to get copies of the requested materials directly from the Ellsworth Police Department, but not until after his first trial had ended.
The board of overseers later determined Kellett violated seven bar rules in prosecuting Filler’s case and recommended she be suspended. The following year, she was sanctioned by the state supreme court and ordered to undergo legal remediation for improperly handling the case against Filler.
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