An Auburn lawyer who is running for district attorney was handed an interim suspension from practicing law Monday after a judge found credible evidence he committed unlawful sexual conduct and assault.
Seth Carey, 42, who is running for district attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, likely violated the law while also breaking the rules for professional conduct, the suspension order issued by Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Thomas D. Warren said. The suspension was sought by the Board of Overseers of the Bar, which monitors conduct by lawyers.
Legal filings and the order say that one of Carey’s former clients, who had been living at his house in Rumford, was granted a protection from abuse order against Carey. After the order was issued, Republican Party leaders called on Carey to drop out of the primary race for DA, but he has vowed to stay in.
A candidate running for district attorney in Maine must be an attorney who is admitted to the general practice of law in Maine, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
Warren said he based the interim suspension on evidence presented at a hearing held April 19 along with the audio recording of the March 30 hearing in Rumford on the woman’s request for a protection from abuse order.
Warren’s order said that Carey’s response to the request for the protection order included “only a very general denial of the complainant’s testimony” and noted that he contended the filing for the protection order followed his threats to evict the woman from his Rumford house. Carey recently moved his law practice from Rumford to Auburn and lived in Auburn during the week and Rumford on weekends.
“Various emails and texts in the record substantiate that Attorney Carey was seeking to have the complainant engage in sexual activity with him and that she had refused,” Warren found. “By Attorney Carey’s own admission in an email, his eviction threat was based in part on the complainant’s refusal of his sexual advances.”
“Carey’s misconduct is sufficiently serious to constitute a threat to clients, to the public, and to the administration of justice,” Warren said.
A prosecutor in the Maine Attorney General’s office said only that the allegations against Carey are being investigated.
In her filing for the protection order, the woman said she had to put a padlock on her door after Carey repeatedly went into her room at night.
“I’ve been woke (sic) up by him rubbing between my legs,” she wrote.
The woman also said that Carey once tried to drag her into his room, “telling me I gave you a place to live, you owe me” and reminding her that he had been her lawyer and “using that to do whatever he wants to me.”
In his response, Carey called the woman’s allegations “a contrived and false complaint,” and said the woman was only allowed to “visit” his Rumford house and he offered her “temporary shelter” after she told him she was in an abusive relationship and had nowhere else to go.
“None of the plaintiff’s tawdry accusations are remotely true, defendant (Carey) was not plaintiff’s lawyer. There is zero abuse. It is simply a case of ‘no good deed goes unpunished,’ ” Carey wrote.
A message left for Carey at his Auburn law office was not returned Monday.
But the judge in Rumford found that the woman was a victim of Carey’s sexual assault and abuse, represented a threat to her and granted the protection order.
Carey filed a motion for reconsideration, relief from judgment, a new trial and to alter or amend the finding on the protection order on April 10, but it has not been acted on.
Carey has been brought before the Maine Bar repeatedly and was first suspended in 2009. One of the orders refers to his “repeated incompetence in court matters.”
In addition to suspensions, he has also been reprimanded for failing to meet a lawyer’s “standards of care and judgment.”
After the protection order was issued, Carey posted about the woman, using her full name, on his law firm’s Facebook page and the Lewiston Sun Journal’s Facebook page, according to an affidavit filed by lawyers for the Maine Bar. He also responded to readers commenting on a Sun Journal article about the protection order.
“Good thing trashy people like you are too ignorant to vote,” he said to one critic. “Say hi to the folks in the trailer park on your way to the voting booth at Walmart.”
He then followed that up with a lengthy post, rejecting the woman’s accusations and complaining about Maine’s laws on protection from abuse.
“I have a big heart, so I allowed her to stay at my house and lent her a car so she could work,” Carey explained.
In his response to the Bar’s effort to get a suspension order, Carey said that even if the court found the woman’s accusations credible, it “is not the ‘eureka’ unearthing that it would have this court believe is the key to immediately ending defendant’s decade (-long) legal career.
“In this, the year of the #METOO movement, where titans of the entertainment industry have been accused of mistreatment of women, it is no big surprise that some will take advantage of the hysteria and ‘ride that wave,’” he continued.
Warren’s order called for a hearing to consider making the suspension permanent soon and a spokeswoman for the Maine Bar said it would likely be held by the end of the month, but hadn’t been formally scheduled late Monday. Warren’s order also called for the hearing to consider reinstating a suspension of Carey, issued in 2016. The court held off held off imposing that ban as long as Carey followed the rules in the future and met certain conditions, including obtaining psychological care.
Carey is probably best known statewide for filing a suit in 2016 seeking to recover draft picks the New England Patriots lost in the National Football League’s punishment for the “Deflategate” incident.
Auburn lawyer Seth Carey conducts a press conference April 9 on the steps of the Androscoggin County Building in Auburn. At right: His friend Jason Keefer of Lewiston, was recording the event. (Sun Journal file photo)