Despite a judge’s finding that Seth Carey engaged in three unwanted sexual advances on a woman he invited to live in a spare room in his Rumford home — charges that led to the ongoing suspension of Carey’s ability to practice law — Carey still aims to become the next district attorney for Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties.
That he’s running at all implicitly violates an April 30 judicial order barring him from working as a lawyer, Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren ruled in September.
But Carey, a Republican, insisted recently that he “didn’t do what’s been alleged” and expressed confidence that he will soon be able to resume his legal career.
A hearing on his proposed penalty is slated for after the Nov. 6 election. A decision is likely before the end of the year, perhaps as soon as late November. If he’s prohibited from working as a lawyer, an appeal is virtually certain.
What happens if Carey wins his race against Democratic incumbent Andrew Robinson remains a mystery. The only thing that’s clear about what happens if he wins is that it will create both a chaotic legal dispute and a thorny political dilemma.
Most everyone in the legal community appears to agree that unless the suspension is lifted, Carey is barred from the job by a state law that says “only attorneys admitted to the general practice of law” can serve as prosecutors.
Carey argues that as long as he is a member of the bar, even if he’s prohibited from working as a lawyer, he can serve. Underlings, after all, are the ones who actually go to court.
“That is difficult to accept, to say the least,” Warren ruled. “If Carey were to make prosecutorial decisions, set policy and supervise lawyers in the district attorney’s office, he would be practicing law whether or not he ever appeared in court.”
At its root, though, the debate isn’t about whether Carey can serve as district attorney. It’s about his behavior toward a woman with whom he lived.
While the woman, who is not named in legal papers and whose identity the Sun Journal is not disclosing because she is a victim of sexual assault, stayed with Carey, he made several unwanted physical advances.
Warren found that once, sometime before last Thanksgiving, “she was sleeping and woke up when she felt Carey’s hands touching her legs and between her thighs,” the judge wrote. “He then suggested that she sleep with him.”
Another time, this year, he tried to pull her into his bedroom while proposing they have sex, the judge said.
One final time, “she was sitting on the couch and he stepped in front of her, pulled her head against his crotch and in crude terms requested oral sex,” Warren determined.
For Carey, who strongly denies any wrongdoing, the case against him is evidence that this is a dangerous time to be a man.
Women know they can make sexual abuse charges that criminal justice officials “automatically believe” even though the alleged incidents never happened, he said.
Carey said the mistreatment of women is “a serious problem,” but “it’s gone too far.”
Carey said the charge levied against him is a perfect example of the unfair, untrue allegations that too many are quick to accept.
But his own political party has more or less disowned him.
Maine Republican Party Chairwoman Demi Kouzounas said months ago that Carey should quit the race in the face of “actual, credible accusations” of misconduct.
She said, in a comment the party reaffirmed this month, that residents of the three counties “should not have a cloud of doubt hovering over their heads.”
Carey said party leaders “are like the swamp creatures that Trump talks about,” trying to protect their turf from a talkative and eccentric attorney who’s willing to fight for justice.
In addition to his current legal woes, Carey was suspended for six months in 2009 and sanctioned again in 2016.
In the 2016 case, a Maine Bar Association panel reviewing the evidence noted that Lance Walker, a federal judge, told officials there “was a fair piece of real estate between the lower end of competence” and Carey’s “poor performance” in the courtroom.
Several judges said they had seen that Carey was often “either unfamiliar or uncomfortable with criminal and civil procedure and with the rules of evidence” and “unable to deviate from his prepared script when testimony did not go as expected.”
One judge called Carey “close to the bottom of the barrel” of all lawyers he had seen.
The panel itself noted “there was little, if anything,” in Carey’s “performance of his own defense at the hearing to suggest that the testimony of these members of the bench was anything but accurate.”
“They know that I have no fear,” Carey said of his critics in the legal community. “It’s just me versus them.”
The district attorney, a four-year position, supervises 13 prosecutors and 22 support staff across the three counties. Some of the prosecutors specialize in domestic violence and sex-offense cases.
The DA is responsible for prosecuting all crimes in the region except murder and some tax and fraud cases.
For more on Seth Carey’s checkered legal career, see these past stories in the Sun Journal:
- Sept. 24, 2018 – Judge finds Seth Carey violated bar rules
- Aug. 17, 2018 – DA hopeful denies sex abuse, plans to continue campaign
- Aug. 16, 2018 – Court dismisses Seth Carey’s defamation suit
- Aug. 16, 2018 – Accuser says living with Seth Carey was her best option
- Aug. 15, 2018 – DA hopeful Seth Carey faces accuser in disbarment hearing
- Aug. 9, 2018 – DA candidate Seth Carey faces disbarment hearing
- July 9, 2018 – Seth Carey stays in district attorney race: ‘I’m in it to win it’
- June 13, 2018 – Carey wins GOP primary
- June 12, 2018 – Controversial Carey appears to be leading GOP primary for district attorney
- June 6, 2018 – Carey announces run for district attorney
- April 30, 2018 – DA candidate Seth Carey suspended from practicing law
- April 10, 2018 – Woman ‘wants to get away’ from district attorney candidate Seth Carey
- April 9, 2018 – Seth Carey vows to stay in DA race despite protection order against him
- April 2, 2018 – Judge grants protection from abuse order against Auburn lawyer running for district attorney
- Aug. 18, 2016 – Rumford lawyer’s probation goes to appeal
- June 13, 2016 – Rumford lawyer loses appeal to fight for stray cats
- April 14, 2016 – Patriot fans vs. NFL: Court denies restraining order request on 1st-round picks
- April 6, 2016 – Rumford lawyer sues NFL over ‘Deflategate’ loss of draft picks
- Aug. 19, 2010 – Rumford lawyer completes suspension terms
- Oct. 7, 2009 – Suspended Rumford lawyer cited again
- Feb. 19, 2009 – Rumford lawyer suspended
- Aug. 9, 2008 – Maine Bar: Seth Carey to have hearing on suspension of law license
- June 25, 2008 – Rumford lawyer awaits hearing on fate in profession
- June 6, 2008 – Judge doubts Carey’s ability
- May 15, 2008 – Attorney says he regrets actions
- May 10, 2008 – Charge against Carey dropped