July 1st, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
In less than a week, Maine Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellett lost two trials in which she had charged men with sex crimes. Kellett is the ADA who’s conduct is being reviewed by the Maine Board of Law Overseers for disciplinary action. Earlier this year, an attorney for the state bar recommended that Kellett be disciplined for her repeated acts of prosecutorial misconduct.
In the first case, Kellett charged and brought to trial Mark Colantonio of Pennsylvania (Bangor Daily News, 6/20/12). He had been vacationing in Maine during the course of divorce and custody proceedings against his wife. His wife’s sister lived in Maine and in due course accused Colantonio of sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual abuse of a minor (she was 18). Colantonio said the claims were fabricated and intended solely for his wife to gain an advantage in his custody case.
Kellett leveled seven charges against Colantonio, but three were dismissed outright by Judge Ann Murray.
The defense attorney said the presiding judge at the trial, Ann Murray, dismissed the three unlawful sexual touching charges after the victim testified that Colantonio had touched her waist but not other parts of her body. A sexual touching charge applies only when someone touches the groin, buttocks or inner thigh of another person, Toothaker said.
The jury found Colantonio innocent of the three assault charges and the one sexual abuse of a minor charge, the attorney said.
You read that right: “the victim testified that Colantonio had touched her waist but not other parts of her body.” That’s the type of case Mary Kellett takes to trial on charges of sexual abuse. He touched her waist. According to Kellett, the waist is part of the buttocks and therefore a sex crime occurred. Judge Murray knew better. In what has to be the last refuge of a bad trial lawyer, Kellett took solace for her defeat in the fact that “the jury was out for a long time.”
Interestingly, defense lawyer Jeff Toothaker was allowed to tell the jury about the connection between the charges and Colantonio’s custody battle. That wasn’t allowed when Kellett brought Vladek Filler to trial, but apparently is now the law in Maine. Because of the Filler case, when criminal charges arise in connection with divorce or custody matters, juries will be told about the divorce or custody case and allowed to conclude that the charges are fabricated to gain an advantage in the family law matter. The jury acquitted Colantonio on all remaining charges.
In the second case, Kellett charged Steve Kane with sexual abuse of a girl over a two-year period (Bangor Daily News, 6/22/12). It took the jury just 30 minutes to acquit him of all 14 charges against him. (So, according to Kellett’s own measure of how well she performed – how long the jury takes to decide – she did terribly.) The problem with Kellett’s case against Kane is that there was literally no evidence of guilt apart from the girl’s word.
During his closing arguments Friday morning, [Defense attorney Daniel] Pileggi highlighted not just the lack of physical evidence but the number of people known to come and go from the Kane family home, where Kane ran his retail clam business and where the assaults supposedly took place. He said no one besides the alleged victim ever told police about his client being left alone with her, and there was no indication of any escalating inappropriate behavior from Kane toward the girl.
Pileggi also told the jury it was odd that the alleged victim could provide few details about the incidents. She could not provide police with physical descriptions of what she saw during the alleged assaults, he said, nor could she provide details about what happened immediately before and after they supposedly took place.
“What is there to support the story she told you [Thursday]? Nothing,” Pileggi said. “This case is full of holes.”
In her own defense to bringing such a patently meritless case, Kellett told reporters “we have an obligation to prosecute.” No, Ms. Kellett, you don’t. Actually the Maine canons of ethics for prosecutors is very clear about their duty to evaluate the merits of a case before deciding to charge a person with a crime. Put simply, prosecutors are required to drop cases not supported by probable cause. Touching another person’s waist is not a sex crime; the wholly unsupported testimony of a complaining witness does not constitute probable cause.
Mary Kellett has again used her position as a state official to attempt to imprison two innocent men. Into the bargain, she used her office to assist a mother in her custody case against Kellett’s defendant. She’s violated the canons of ethics of the state bar in doing so. She’s done the same or similar things in at least 10 other cases including Filler’s. One of those men, Michael Weber, said this of Kellett’s conduct:
“I was continuously put through the system for no reason”. He was charged with 14 counts of gross sexual assault, found innocent on all 14 counts, then tried again for unlawful sexual contact and, again, found innocent. “There was no circumstantial evidence” reports Webber.
Mary Kellett is a woman on a mission – to imprison as many men as possible, rightly or wrongly. Over many years she’s showed a blatant disregard for the rights of those she accuses, criminal procedure and the canons of ethics. She should be disbarred. It is long past time.