Seth Carey holds a news conference April 9 in Auburn. The Maine Republican Party has called on Carey to withdraw from the race for district attorney. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

A judge has suspended the law license of an Auburn lawyer who is running for district attorney, finding credible evidence that he subjected a former client to unlawful sexual contact and assault.

Seth Carey, 42, a Republican who is running for DA for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, likely violated the law while also breaking the rules of professional conduct, according to the interim suspension order issued Monday by Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Thomas D. Warren. The suspension was sought by the Board of Overseers of the Bar, which monitors conduct by lawyers.

Arguments presented by Maine Bar lawyers and evidence in a protection order hearing in Rumford on March 30 supported a finding that Carey subjected a former client to unlawful sexual contact, Warren’s order said. The assault allegation arose out of charges that Carey grabbed the woman’s head and pulled it toward his crotch while demanding oral sex, the order said, and also was supported by credible evidence.

Legal filings and the order say that one of Carey’s former clients, who had been living at his house in Rumford, was granted a protection from abuse order against Carey. After the order was issued, Republican Party leaders called on Carey to drop out of the primary race for DA, but he has vowed to stay in.

A candidate running for district attorney in Maine must be an attorney who is admitted to the general practice of law in Maine, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Warren said he based the interim suspension on evidence presented at a hearing April 19, along with the audio recording of the March 30 hearing in Rumford on the woman’s request for a protection order.

Warren’s order said Carey’s response to the request for the protection order included “only a very general denial of the complainant’s testimony” and noted that Carey contended the filing for the protection order followed his threats to evict the woman from his house. Carey recently moved his law practice from Rumford to Auburn and stays in Auburn during the week and in Rumford on weekends.

“Various emails and texts in the record substantiate that Attorney Carey was seeking to have the complainant engage in sexual activity with him and that she had refused,” Warren found. “By Attorney Carey’s own admission in an email, his eviction threat was based in part on the complainant’s refusal of his sexual advances.

“Carey’s misconduct is sufficiently serious to constitute a threat to clients, to the public, and to the administration of justice,” Warren said.

A prosecutor in the Maine Attorney General’s Office said only that the allegations against Carey are being investigated.

In her filing for the protection order, the woman said she had to put a padlock on her door after Carey repeatedly went into her room at night.

“I’ve been woke (sic) up by him rubbing between my legs,” she wrote.

The woman also said that Carey once tried to drag her into his room, “telling me I gave you a place to live, you owe me” and reminding her that he had been her lawyer and “using that to do whatever he wants to me.”

In his response, Carey called the woman’s allegations “a contrived and false complaint.” He said the woman was only allowed to “visit” his Rumford house and that he had offered her “temporary shelter” after she told him she was in an abusive relationship and had nowhere else to go.

“None of the plaintiff’s tawdry accusations are remotely true, defendant (Carey) was not plaintiff’s lawyer. There is zero abuse. It is simply a case of ‘no good deed goes unpunished,’” Carey wrote.

But the judge in Rumford found that the woman was a victim of sexual contact and abuse by Carey and that he represented a threat to her, and granted the protection order.

Carey filed a motion for reconsideration, relief from judgment, a new trial and to alter or amend the finding on the protection order on April 10, but it has not been acted on.

He did not respond to a callback request left Monday at his Auburn law office.

Carey has been brought before the Maine Bar repeatedly and was first suspended in 2009. One of the orders refers to his “repeated incompetence in court matters.”

In addition to suspensions, he also has been reprimanded for failing to meet a lawyer’s “standards of care and judgment.”

After the protection order was issued, Carey posted about the woman, using her full name, on his law firm’s Facebook page and the Lewiston Sun Journal’s Facebook page, according to an affidavit filed by lawyers for the Maine Bar. He also responded to readers commenting on a Sun Journal article about the protection order.

“Good thing trashy people like you are too ignorant to vote,” he said to one critic. “Say hi to the folks in the trailer park on your way to the voting booth at Walmart.”

He then followed that up with a lengthy post, rejecting the woman’s accusations and complaining about Maine’s laws on protection from abuse.

In his response to the Maine Bar’s effort to get a suspension order, Carey said that even if the court found the woman’s accusations credible, it “is not the ‘eureka’ unearthing that it would have this court believe is the key to immediately ending defendant’s decade (-long) legal career.

“In this, the year of the #METOO movement, where titans of the entertainment industry have been accused of mistreatment of women, it is no big surprise that some will take advantage of the hysteria and ‘ride that wave,’ ” he continued.

Warren’s order called for a hearing to consider making the suspension permanent, and a spokeswoman for the Maine Bar said it would likely be held by the end of the month, but hadn’t been formally scheduled late Monday. Warren’s order also called for the hearing to consider reinstating a suspension of Carey, issued in 2016. The court held off on imposing that ban as long as Carey followed the rules in the future and met certain conditions, including obtaining psychological care.

Carey is probably best known statewide for filing a lawsuit in 2016 seeking to recover draft picks that the New England Patriots lost in the National Football League’s punishment for the “Deflategate” incident.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected]