ELLSWORTH — A former Gouldsboro resident is claiming in a civil lawsuit that his constitutional rights were violated during a 2009 sexual assault trial, a charge of which he later was acquitted.
Vladek Filler, who now lives in Atlanta, filed the complaint Jan. 9 in Hancock County Superior Court. The 103-page document alleges that prosecutors and law enforcement officers withheld evidence during the discovery process preceding the trial despite repeated requests for that information by Filler’s defense attorney. Filler additionally alleges that video and audio evidence was mishandled and, in some cases, was fraudulent or edited in ways favorable to the prosecution.
The complaint lists 18 defendants. Among them are Hancock and Washington counties, their respective former sheriffs William Clark and Donnie Smith; the city of Ellsworth and former Police Chief John DeLeo; and the town of Gouldsboro and former Police Chief Guy Wycoff as well as former District Attorney Michael Povich and members of his prosecutorial staff.
Filler was convicted in January 2009 on one count of Class A gross sexual assault and two misdemeanor assault charges for alleged incidents involving his then wife. His conviction later was overturned after a judge ruled the prosecutor, former Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellett, made statements during closing arguments that were unacceptable. During a second trial, Filler was acquitted of gross sexual assault and one of the assault charges.
He was convicted on the other assault charge and served three weeks in jail.
In December 2010, Filler filed a complaint against Kellett with the Maine Board of Overseers alleging that she violated Maine Bar rules during his 2009 trial. The board found there was probable cause that Kellett did violate the Bar rules. Kellett later admitted to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court that she did and was suspended for 30 days. The suspension itself was suspended.
In the lawsuit, Filler, through his attorney, Thomas Hallett of Hallett, Zerillo and Whipple, alleges Povich, while in office, established a policy of requiring defendants and their attorneys to obtain discovery through law enforcement officers instead of through the District Attorney’s Office. Filler maintains this “policy or custom” violated state and federal law as well as his constitutional rights.
Filler further alleges that “as part of an ongoing conspiracy,” Kellett released false information to a media organization and directed two police officers to not produce documents subpoenaed by Filler’s attorney.
During their investigation of Filler, Kellett, “together with police, conspired to withhold exculpatory information, and falsified evidence, so that Filler ould be wrongfully charged and wrongfully convicted of sexual assault,” the complaint states.
The allegations of falsified evidence involve photographs of the Filler home and information stored on the defendant’s computer.
Filler contends photographs of his home, where the alleged assaults occurred, that were presented during his 2009 trial were staged, illegally obtained and did not accurately depict the alleged crime scene.
Filler’s computer was seized in 2007 and sent to the Maine Computer Crime Task Force for analysis. According to the lawsuit, the task force found no pornography, violent images or anything illegal.
Despite the task force report, Detective Steve McFarland of the District Attorney’s Office began his own search of the computer using “invalid hidden files to browse the Internet from one webpage to another webpage until he managed to find violent or pornographic material” that never was viewed on Filler’s computer, the complaint alleges.
“Detective McFarland then printed out a stack of the most obscene and vulgar images he could find and Kellett submitted this fabricated evidence in to discovery as if it came from plaintiff’s computer,” the complaint states.
The complaint also names a friend of Filler’s ex-wife as a defendant. Linda Gleason, a registered nurse, is alleged to have “concocted” a plan along with the ex-wife where Filler would be falsely accused of sexual assault in an attempt to prevent Filler from gaining custody of their children during divorce proceedings.
Filler is asking for a jury trial. No date has been set.