This May, Maine resident Vladek Filler will finally get a new trial. He’s been in prison for almost two years having been convicted of raping his wife, Ligia Barrientos Filler.
From the outside, his conviction looks to be one of the most outrageous miscarriages of justice to come along is a good while. Of course, I wasn’t there, so I don’t know all the facts and circumstances, but this one doesn’t pass the smell test.
Vladek and Ligia had been married for 16 years when he decided to end their marriage. Ligia responded to that with multiple allegations of sexual abuse of their children. Filler’s website here includes the audio tape police made when neighbors called them to apprehend Ligia who was in the street, partially clad and screaming about sexual abuse.
The state Department of Health and Human Services investigated Ligia’s claims and found them to be entirely baseless. The family court judge was so impressed with Ligia’s claims that she awarded custody of the children to Vladek saying,
“[Ligia Filler] accused Mr. Filler of molesting the children. That allegation was false and known to be false. She has shown a capacity to manufacture claims…
That capacity for manufacturing claims apparently came, not only from her relationship with Vladek, but as well from those with other men previously.
Having failed in her attempt to separate him from his children, Ligia then cried rape. That got Vladek jailed; he made bail and turned his attentions to saving his children from harm at the hands of their mother who seems to have mental/emotional problems. Such was the conclusion drawn by police and sheriff’s deputies. That’s when the family court awarded him custody.
But just when it seemed that justice had prevailed, enter stage left, Assistant District Attorney, Mary Kellett. Kellett looks to be the type of prosecutor who, steeped in the politics of the 80s, assumes all claims of rape to be true. It seems she takes them all to trial irrespective of their objective merits.
Given that rape, unlike most criminal charges, requires nothing beyond the say-so of the complaining witness to get to trial, there’s nothing to stop the likes of Kellett from forcing falsely accused men to trial. That’s what it looks like happened in Filler’s case.
After all, many prosecutors would look askance at a case in which the woman had praised the man as “the most loving and caring man and father” she had ever known, but who suddenly, when he announces his intention to divorce her, levels baseless accusations of child sexual abuse at him.
Into the bargain, Ligia refused to be medically examined and there was in fact no medical evidence whatsoever offered by the state at trial.
There’s more. Ligia claimed Vladek had assaulted her on several occasions, but the defense was able to prove that many of those times Vladek was elsewhere. On one of the dates, their 12-year-old son was present. He testified that nothing had occurred. He also testified that he’d never seen his father be violent toward his mother, but he had seen her commit violence against his dad.
Add all that to that the fact that the complainant has falsely accused men in the past and has evident emotional problems and most prosecutors would know what to do – drop the case.
Not Kellett. She took Filler’s case to trial and won a conviction. How? She got the judge to exclude all evidence that the allegations arose from a fight over child custody as well as all evidence of Ligia’s previous lies.
If that weren’t bad enough, she then told the jury in closing argument that there was no custody case. That proved too much even for the trial judge who ruled the verdict to be a product of prosecutorial misconduct and ordered a new trial. The Maine Supreme Court agreed and Vladek Filler will get another opportunity to prove his innocence.
Hopefully the trial judge will have learned his lesson about just who Ligia Filler is and will make evidentiary rulings accordingly. The life of a thoroughly decent man and the welfare of his children are at stake.
In the mean time, Vladek has filed a multi-page, multi-count complaint with the Maine State Bar concerning Mary Kellett’s misbehavior. When that is scheduled to be ruled on, I don’t know.
I’d bet good money that Vladek Filler is an innocent man railroaded into prison by an unstable wife threatened with the loss of her kids and an unscrupulous prosecutor who believes all claims of rape.
We’ll follow this case as it goes to trial.