Attorney Jon Gale confers with a client in a courthouse in Portland in this BDN file photo. Credit: Jake Bleiberg | BDN

Jon Gale, the Democratic nominee for Cumberland County district attorney, said Monday night that he will be dropping out of the race to lead Maine’s busiest prosecutor’s office.

“It is with immense regret and a heavy heart that I decline to go forward with this process, and withdraw from this race,” he said in an emailed statement.

Gale’s decision to bow out came less than 12 hours after his party publicly called on him to withdraw and the Bangor Daily News reported three former colleagues saying he’d left a private-sector job in 2004 amid a human resources investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

Gale’s departure narrows the race to replace longtime District Attorney Stephanie Anderson to a single candidate — independent Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck.

Gale, 51, said in the statement that the BDN’s report “weaves together some inaccuracies and partial truths about my employment” at Unum. When asked repeatedly Monday morning, he did not deny there was an investigation into his conduct at the publicly traded insurance company.

[Democrats ask DA candidate to drop out of race over ‘very troubling allegations’]

In his evening statement, the criminal defense attorney acknowledged having “extramarital affairs,” said that he has “accept[ed] full responsibility for those decisions and actions” and worked through them with his wife and family.

Gale rejected that there were any victims of his behavior at Unum.

“Those decisions did not involve my victimizing anyone, nor was I accused of victimizing anyone,” he said.

Gale said that he is leaving the race because his family “cannot bear this stress.” He expressed frustration that the Democrats asked him to drop out eight days before the election.

“The notion that our own party leadership has rejected us and encouraged people to vote for our opponent is unimaginable — that the largest segment of our battle now comes from the Democratic leadership is crushing,” he said.

[Republican drops out of race to replace longtime DA]

Maine Democratic Party chairman Phil Bartlett said Monday that he asked Gale over the weekend to immediately withdraw his candidacy after hearing concerns from people who worked with the lawyer at Unum. They included “a victim who reported some very troubling allegations,” Bartlett said.

A spokeswoman for the Maine secretary of state’s office told the BDN Tuesday morning the office has not yet received an official withdrawal letter from Gale.

In any case, his withdrawal is too late to remove his name from the ballot, so his name will appear along with Sahrbeck and Republican Randall Bates, who dropped out in September after raising far less money than his opponents.

Votes cast for candidates who have withdrawn from a race are not counted.

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