A Penobscot County district court judge has filed a motion to dismiss a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by a prosecutor and a drug treatment counselor.

Charles Budd, who oversaw the Penobscot County Adult Drug Treatment program before he was placed on administrative leave, is accused of making sexual advances toward Samantha Pike, a drug and alcohol treatment counselor; and Natasha Irving, the district attorney for Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor in November, focused on the judge’s interactions with the two women at a conference in Nashville in July.

Budd had denied the allegations and filed a motion to dismiss the complaint last week. His lawyer, Melissa Hewey, wrote that the alleged behavior described in the lawsuit would be “overly familiar,” “inappropriate” and “unprofessional.”

But Hewey also argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the allegations do not rise to the level of illegality. The motion to dismiss describes the judge’s conduct as “rather mild” and said the plaintiffs did not accuse Budd of making physical advances or pressuring them for sexual favors. He was also not acting within the context of his obligations as a judge, the motion says.

“To be sure, if Budd did what he is alleged to have done (the allegations are disputed), thereby making one or both of the Plaintiffs feel uncomfortable, that was inappropriate,” the motion says. “But making female colleagues feel uncomfortable at a conference, although unprofessional, is simply not something that is covered by the equal protection clause of the Constitution of the United States.”

Attorney Laura White, who represents the plaintiffs, said her clients will “vigorously” oppose the motion to dismiss.


“This case is about the intense and overtly sexual pursuit of women at a conference that Judge Budd attended in his role as a judge,” White wrote in an email. “Although this alleged conduct was not a judicial act, my clients are convinced that Judge Budd took the opportunity to sexually harass them precisely because of the status he enjoyed as a judge. We have alleged unwanted sexual advances not in Judge Budd’s personal life, but in his role as a representative of the State of Maine judiciary.”

The complaint focuses mostly on Budd’s interactions with Pike, who worked regularly with him and directed the outpatient substance use disorder program for Wellspring Inc., an addiction treatment provider in Bangor. It describes multiple encounters between them during the conference that gave Pike “extreme, pervasive and severe fear that Judge Budd was going to sexually assault her.”

The complaint also says Budd met Irving for the first time at the conference and almost immediately sexually propositioned her by suggesting in front of another Maine Judicial Branch employee that she sleep in his room.

A spokesperson for the Maine Judicial Branch said in November that Budd is on administrative leave but would not disclose the reason or say when that leave began.

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