Change of venue denied in rape retrial

By Bill Trotter

May 12, 2011

BANGOR, Maine

Vladek Filler, 41, formerly of Gouldsboro, was found guilty in 2009 of raping his wife but, after his then-attorney argued that a prosecutor made an inappropriate comment during her closing argument, Filler requested a re-trial. The trial judge, Justice Kevin Cuddy, granted the request — a decision that later was upheld by the state supreme court

…On Monday, Filler’s new defense attorney, Stephen C. Smith, on Thursday asked the new trial judge, Robert Murray, to dismiss the gross sexual assault charge and one assault charge against Filler. Smith argued that there is not enough evidence to support the assault charge, and said that the judge who presided over Filler’s divorce proceedings determine that the alleged sexual assault did not occur. The divorce resulted in Filler gaining custody of his two sons…

…Murray denied both of Smith’s motions to dismiss charges against Filler…

…Before Thursday’s hearing, relatives of Filler, representatives of the group Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, and another former rape defendant held a press conference outside the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor. They said that too many questionable cases alleging sexual assaults in Hancock County are being brought against men who end up being acquitted.

SAVE President Edward Bartlett said Thursday that funding for criminal prosecutions in Maine should be reduced to help lower the number of what he said are frivolous prosecutions brought against innocent men. Bartlett said that on Wednesday, his group delivered to Gov. Paul LePage’s office in Augusta a petition with more than 1,000 signatures on it. The petition requests that Kellett be disbarred and that all charges against Filler be dropped, he said.

Mike Webber, 38, of Penobscot said he was tried twice in Hancock County in recent years, once on 14 sexual assault or contact charges and a second time on charges of assault and unlawful sexual touching. Both trials were the result of a custody battle he was having with his ex-wife, he said, and both times he was acquitted.

Webber said the accusations against him were fabricated and he never should have been prosecuted. He said the experience has damaged his personal life and his auto repair business.

“I lost four years of my life,” Webber said. “Somebody tried to use me as an example, for what I don’t know. I’m still trying to put things back together.”

Read more and watch a video of the press conference at Bangor Daily News.