Maine State Police on Thursday responded to criticisms leveled by a Lewiston defense attorney after sex crime charges were dropped against suspended lawyer Seth Carey of Rumford.

Carey, 48, pleaded guilty in 8th District Court in Lewiston in May to a misdemeanor count of assault. Carey was sentenced Wednesday on that charge to a $300 fine, the minimum mandatory sanction for that crime.

He had been charged since his arrest in 2021 in Florida with two felonies: attempted gross sexual assault and attempted aggravated sex trafficking, and three misdemeanors: unlawful sexual contact, domestic assault and engaging in prostitution.

All those charges were dismissed by Hancock County Assistant District Attorney Heather Staples in May. There has been no comment on the reason for the dismissal.

Carey’s attorney, James Howaniec, issued a blistering rebuke Wednesday of the state police, which investigated the case. Among other things, Howaniec referred to the investigation as “a complete dog and pony show.”

State police leaders, however, strongly disputed Howaniec’s characterization in a statement Thursday.


“The Maine State Police takes all reports of domestic violence very seriously,” Col. William Ross said. “The detectives in this case worked diligently interviewing both parties while continuing to gather evidence, which included digital media. Because Carey had been (an) attorney with clients, the court ordered the Maine State Police to furnish all digital evidence to an independent and objective filter team to review the digital media in order to filter evidence from his seized digital media that may have been privileged information. That filter team took approximately 18 months to complete their review of evidence. It’s important to note that this case was also taking place during COVID restrictions and professionals working remotely.

“As the investigation neared completion,” Ross wrote, “the case was brought by the district attorney for review by the grand jury for review of felony charges based on the investigative evidence. When those charges were brought by a duly impaneled grand jury, the Maine State Police obtained a warrant for arrest in order to secure Carey and bring him back to Maine since he was living in Florida in the spring of 2021. The case has been with the courts since that time. The defendant pleaded guilty to assault in exchange for dismissal of the other felony counts.”

The charges against Carey stemmed from a complaint lodged by a woman who reported in 2018 that Carey had sexually assaulted her when she was renting a room at his Rumford home. The woman met Carey after she responded to him on a dating website and they had engaged in a sexual relationship.

The woman later accused Carey of sexual assault and secured a protection from abuse order against him.

Howaniec said the woman made the allegations only after Carey attempted to break off the relationship and have her leave his house.

Carey has always maintained his innocence.

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