Maine Republican leaders moved swiftly Monday to condemn a House candidate from Saco who was charged the night before with felony aggravated assault.

Mark Bedell, a Republican from Saco, is seeking the House District 15 seat. He is running against Democrat Maggie O’Neil. Both are first-time candidates hoping to fill the seat left vacant by Democrat Justin Chenette, who stepped down to run for state Senate.

Bedell was arrested Sunday by Saco police after a 42-year-old woman reported that he assaulted her at his home on Watson Mills Road. Police released few details about the alleged assault and there was no arrest affidavit filed with the court, but York County Assistant District Attorney Tanya Pierson said in court Monday that it involved strangulation. He and the woman were identified as friends.

Bedell, 50, made an initial appearance in York County court Monday afternoon via video conference. Bail was set at $2,500 cash, which he later posted and was released.

In court, Bedell spoke only when the judge asked if he understood the charge against him. “I know what she alleges,” he replied.

Bedell did not respond to an interview request at the jail, but his court-appointed attorney for the hearing, Mark Peltier, said Bedell is “eager for his day in court on this matter.”

A woman who was in court Monday during Bedell’s appearance said she was the victim’s sister. She said her sister was hospitalized with bruises and a possible concussion. She would not comment further, or give her name but said her sister, who has not been named, was extremely upset and embarrassed.

Bedell has no prior criminal record in Maine, according to state records.

Even before Bedell’s court appearance, Republicans were calling on him to abandon his candidacy.

“I strongly condemn the actions of Mark Bedell,” House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette said in a statement. “As someone who has sponsored and worked hard to pass legislation to deal with domestic violence, I find the report of his conduct to be reprehensible. I strongly urge him to publicly withdraw as a candidate for the Maine Legislature and we are all praying for his wife and family.”

Maine Republican Chairman Rick Bennett and York County Republican Chairman Jim Booth also called on Bedell to withdraw.

“While we insist that the justice system be allowed to work to determine Mr. Bedell’s innocence or guilt, we will not stand idly by in this matter,” Bennett said in a statement Monday. “We take domestic violence very seriously, and these allegations are deeply disturbing. There is no place in our party for this sort of behavior. We encourage Mr. Bedell to step aside, to seek whatever help he needs personally in this matter, and to let the justice system work.”

Added Booth: “Republicans and I personally have no tolerance for domestic abuse. We also note that this is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. There is no excuse for what Mr. Bedell is alleged to have done.”

Bedell is running for a House seat that has been reliably Democratic for several years. Before Chenette, who served two terms, the seat was held for eight years by Linda Valentino, a Democrat.

Bedell, whose family owned a car dealership in Saco for many years, spent much of his adult life outside Maine, working in professional theater, film and television, before moving back to the state in 2015, according to his campaign website. Since then, he has worked doing stunts and effects for various theaters in southern Maine.

It’s not clear whether Bedell is married. His campaign website does not give his marital status or whether he has children.

His candidate profile said he said had never considered running for office before, but was recruited after attending a local Republican Party meeting.

“You know the old adage, everyone complains about the political climate but no one ever does anything about it,” he said. “Well, here is a chance for me to put my money where my mouth is.”

 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.