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Maine: Prosecutorial Misconduct in False Rape Case Results in $2.1 Million in Damages

by Chad Marks

Vladek Filler found himself on the wrong side of former Hancock County District Attorney Mary Kellett. In 2007, Filler’s wife, Ligia Filler, made allegations that her husband sexually assaulted her. Kellett ignored exculpatory evidence in her overzealousness to prosecute Filler for rape and sexual assault. After two trials and two appeals, Filler was cleared of the rape charges but convicted of the assault. The assault conviction was later dismissed based on prosecutorial misconduct.

Filler believed that his wife’s allegations were in retaliation for his initiation of a separation in which he retained custody of their two children from the marriage. These allegations were made when Ligia Filler was involuntarily committed to a hospital in 2007.

In response to the misconduct, Filler filed a federal lawsuit alleging the withholding, tampering and destruction of exculpatory evidence, conspiracy, malicious prosecution and defamation. [See: PLN, Feb. 2017, p.47]. The facts showed that Kellett edited a taped statement of Ligia Filler telling her friend that she made the allegations against her husband so she could retain custody of her children, and that Kellett advised police not to comply with the defense’s subpoenas. Kellet was one of 18 individuals who Filler named in the lawsuit.

In 2013, Kellett admitted to the Maine Supreme Court that she violated bar rules during Filler’s 2009 criminal trial. She issued a public apology, was ordered suspended for 30 days and was required to attend ethics training.

Overcoming the high threshold for prosecutorial immunity and receiving a settlement for claims of such conduct had never been done in Maine until Filler’s suit. The state agreed to pay $375,000 in July 2018 to settle the suit against former A.D.A. Mary Kellett, police officials and other defendants.

On March 12, 2019, the district court entered default judgment against Linda Gleason, a friend of Filler’s ex-wife who had encouraged her to file the false claims. The court ordered Gleason to pay $1.77 million in damages. 

“The surreal nightmare that my family and I  were put through has been devastating,” Filler said. Ironically,  Kellett now works as a defense attorney. See: Filler v. Hancock County, U.S.D.C. (D. Maine), Case No. 1:15-cv-00048-JAW. 

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Additional sources: ellsworthamerican.com, saveservices.org

Related legal case

Filler v. Hancock County