AUBURN — Seth Carey, the Republican nominee for district attorney in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, faces disbarment next week, stemming in part from allegations he sexually abused a woman and then proposed paying her to drop her complaint.
The woman making the allegations against Carey is a former client who had been living with him at his Rumford home.
A hearing on Carey’s standing as a lawyer is scheduled for several days at Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland before Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren.
Carey, who practiced law in Rumford and Auburn, was admitted to the Maine Bar in 2006, but his license has been under interim suspension since April 30, after a district court judge in March issued a two-year protection-from-abuse order against Carey, finding he had sexually abused (including one sexually violent incident) the woman who filed for the protection order.
Carey has since appealed that judge’s order to the state’s high court, but no hearing date in that case has been scheduled.
Next week’s hearing will focus on the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar’s amended 23-page complaint against Carey who, it says, should be suspended for two years or be disbarred.
“The events which occurred after (the woman’s) stay in Mr. Carey’s home constituted both criminal and serious professional misconduct by Mr. Carey,” and that they violated his oath of office, according to the board’s amended complaint.
Carey filed motions in May that included postponing his interim suspension. A hearing was scheduled for the next day, but Carey failed to appear, writing that “there will not be a hearing in front of the same judge who abused his discretion,” according to the board’s complaint.
Carey’s motions were denied.
The board said Carey proposed he would pay $1,000 to the woman who filed the protection order in exchange for her signing a non-disclosure agreement that says there was no abuse by Carey and that she moves to vacate the board’s actions against Carey.
Those efforts by Carey violate the bar’s professional conduct rules, according to the board.
The board included in its complaint against Carey that a client of his filed a grievance with the board about Carey’s failure to “properly communicate with him about various matters involving (federal) litigation.”
That client told the board that Carey had not informed him of his suspension from law practice, and that he had charged him fees related to his case during the time Carey’s law license was under suspension.
Even after Justice Warren put Carey on interim suspension, Carey continued to present himself as a lawyer, and campaigned for district attorney on social media and on his website, the board said in its complaint. Carey also failed to file an affidavit confirming he gave his legal clients notice of his suspension, the board said.
Warren’s suspension was not Carey’s first, but, in fact, his third in a decade.
He had been on a two-year suspension (that was suspended) when he engaged, according to a Rumford District Court judge, in criminal conduct, such as “offensive physical contact and unlawful sexual contact,” a violation of one of the many conditions of that earlier suspension, the board’s complaint said.
Carey also failed to comply with the conditions of his earlier suspension when he didn’t show up for two counseling session with his clinical psychologist, the complaint said.
In an additional count in its complaint against Carey, the board said Carey signed as attorney on a civil lawsuit filed in Penobscot County Superior Court, and negotiated that case after his license had been suspended.
In all, the board said, Carey violated more than a dozen Maine bar rules of professional conduct, including competence, communication, fees, confidentiality of information, duties to former clients, fairness to opposing party and counsel, communications concerning a lawyer’s services, judicial and legal officials and misconduct.
Last month, Carey filed a civil lawsuit in Androscoggin County Superior Court against the woman who claimed he sexually abused her as well as her attorney and her firm.
Carey wrote in his complaint that the defendants “have all essentially conspired to ruin my career, all based on total lies of (the woman) and the dangerous and reckless carte blanche concurrence of her taxpayer-funded legal aid services lawyers.” The woman, to whom he refers as a “fake victim,” was represented by Pine Tree Legal Services, which represents indigent clients.
In his complaint, Carey disputes claims made by the woman in Rumford District Court to support her order for protection from abuse. Among the 11 counts against the defendants, he is suing for defamation, malicious prosecution, fraud upon the court, abuse of process and invasion of privacy.