Despite a judge’s finding that Seth Carey engaged in three unwanted sexual advances on a woman he invited to live in a spare room in his Rumford home — charges that led to the ongoing suspension of Carey’s ability to practice law — Carey still aims to become the next district attorney for Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties.

That he’s running at all implicitly violates an April 30 judicial order barring him from working as a lawyer, Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren ruled in September.

But Carey, a Republican, insisted recently that he “didn’t do what’s been alleged” and expressed confidence that he will soon be able to resume his legal career.

A hearing on his proposed penalty is slated for after the Nov. 6 election. A decision is likely before the end of the year, perhaps as soon as late November. If he’s prohibited from working as a lawyer, an appeal is virtually certain.

What happens if Carey wins his race against Democratic incumbent Andrew Robinson remains a mystery. The only thing that’s clear about what happens if he wins is that it will create both a chaotic legal dispute and a thorny political dilemma.

Most everyone in the legal community appears to agree that unless the suspension is lifted, Carey is barred from the job by a state law that says “only attorneys admitted to the general practice of law” can serve as prosecutors.

Carey argues that as long as he is a member of the bar, even if he’s prohibited from working as a lawyer, he can serve. Underlings, after all, are the ones who actually go to court.

“That is difficult to accept, to say the least,” Warren ruled. “If Carey were to make prosecutorial decisions, set policy and supervise lawyers in the district attorney’s office, he would be practicing law whether or not he ever appeared in court.”

At its root, though, the debate isn’t about whether Carey can serve as district attorney. It’s about his behavior toward a woman with whom he lived.

While the woman, who is not named in legal papers and whose identity the Sun Journal is not disclosing because she is a victim of sexual assault, stayed with Carey, he made several unwanted physical advances.

Warren found that once, sometime before last Thanksgiving, “she was sleeping and woke up when she felt Carey’s hands touching her legs and between her thighs,” the judge wrote. “He then suggested that she sleep with him.”

Another time, this year, he tried to pull her into his bedroom while proposing they have sex, the judge said.

One final time, “she was sitting on the couch and he stepped in front of her, pulled her head against his crotch and in crude terms requested oral sex,” Warren determined.

For Carey, who strongly denies any wrongdoing, the case against him is evidence that this is a dangerous time to be a man.

Women know they can make sexual abuse charges that criminal justice officials “automatically believe” even though the alleged incidents never happened, he said.

Carey said the mistreatment of women is “a serious problem,” but “it’s gone too far.”

Carey said the charge levied against him is a perfect example of the unfair, untrue allegations that too many are quick to accept.

But his own political party has more or less disowned him.

Maine Republican Party Chairwoman Demi Kouzounas said months ago that Carey should quit the race in the face of “actual, credible accusations” of misconduct.

She said, in a comment the party reaffirmed this month, that residents of the three counties “should not have a cloud of doubt hovering over their heads.”

Carey said party leaders “are like the swamp creatures that Trump talks about,” trying to protect their turf from a talkative and eccentric attorney who’s willing to fight for justice.

In addition to his current legal woes, Carey was suspended for six months in 2009 and sanctioned again in 2016.

In the 2016 case, a Maine Bar Association panel reviewing the evidence noted that Lance Walker, a federal judge, told officials there “was a fair piece of real estate between the lower end of competence” and Carey’s “poor performance” in the courtroom.

Several judges said they had seen that Carey was often “either unfamiliar or uncomfortable with criminal and civil procedure and with the rules of evidence” and “unable to deviate from his prepared script when testimony did not go as expected.”

One judge called Carey “close to the bottom of the barrel” of all lawyers he had seen.

The panel itself noted “there was little, if anything,” in Carey’s “performance of his own defense at the hearing to suggest that the testimony of these members of the bench was anything but accurate.”

“They know that I have no fear,” Carey said of his critics in the legal community. “It’s just me versus them.”

The district attorney, a four-year position, supervises 13 prosecutors and 22 support staff across the three counties. Some of the prosecutors specialize in domestic violence and sex-offense cases.

The DA is responsible for prosecuting all crimes in the region except murder and some tax and fraud cases.

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