Lavalle Caldwell was out on bail when he allegedly robbed a Rite Aid in Portland Oct. 2.

PORTLAND (AP) – A New York man whose release on bail in October drew harsh criticism from Portland’s police chief has pleaded innocent to offenses he allegedly committed after he was set free.

Lavalle Caldwell, 35, was arraigned Tuesday on a four-count indictment arising from an Oct. 11 incident in which police say he assaulted his wheelchair-bound girlfriend.

Superior Court Justice Robert E. Crowley ordered Caldwell held without bail.

At the time of the assault arrest, Caldwell was out on bail for allegedly robbing a Portland drugstore on Oct. 2.

Prosecutors say he sexually groped one of the employees of the Rite Aid store, threatened others with a gun and fled in a stolen car.

At the time of that arrest, prosecutors say Caldwell was out on bail for a driving offense and wanted for a parole violation in Pennsylvania.

“Every possible bail argument you could make pertains to this guy,” said Assistant District Attorney Matthew Tice. “These are serious charges, he has an extensive criminal history, and he was out on bail when he did them.”

Caldwell’s court-appointed lawyer, John Ney, said he made no argument for Caldwell’s release on bail, but reserved the right to argue for it later.

Police Chief Michael Chitwood spoke out after another judge reduced Caldwell’s bail to $650 after the Rite Aid robbery, allowing him to go free. Caldwell was then charged with attacking Brandi McLean, his girlfriend, and threatening her with a knife.

Advocates for domestic violence victims called Maine’s bail code antiquated because it cannot be used to prevent crimes, even when a suspect shows a likelihood to commit new crimes when released. Bail is used only to make sure that a defendant appears in court.

Caldwell has been held at Cumberland County Jail since his last arrest.

AP-ES-12-24-03 0216EST



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