Jon Gale dropped out of the race to become the Cumberland County district attorney on Monday night after the Maine Democratic Party had asked him to withdraw over unspecified allegations of sexual misconduct from when Gale worked at Unum in the early 2000s.

The Maine Democratic Party asked Jon Gale of Portland to drop out of the race for district attorney in Cumberland County, and he did so Monday night.

Gale, 51, didn’t directly address the allegations about his time at Unum, but admitted that he engaged in extramarital affairs while denying that he victimized anyone or was accused of victimizing anyone.

“What is true is that I have made several decisions in my personal life that I regret,” he said in an email late Monday night. “I engaged in extramarital affairs. I have ultimately had to work through those decisions and their repercussions with my wife – who has forgiven me. I accept full responsibility for those decisions and actions.”

Gale’s withdrawal means that independent Jonathan Sahrbeck, who currently is an assistant district attorney in Cumberland County, is the only candidate in the running.

Gale said the notion that his own party leadership had rejected him and encouraged people to vote for his opponent “is unimaginable – that the largest segment of our battle now comes from the Democratic leadership is crushing.”

Gale said what matters most to him is the well-being of his wife and children.

“It is with immense regret and a heavy heart that I decline to go forward with his process, and withdraw from this race,” Gale said.

Gale, a Portland resident who runs a solo defense practice, won a three-way race during the Democratic primary in June.

Earlier Monday, Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett said that he asked Gale to withdraw his candidacy because of unspecified allegations of sexual misconduct from when Gale worked at Unum in the early 2000s.

Bartlett said he first learned of the accusations over the weekend when he was contacted by a person who worked with Gale at the insurance company. The party chairman called Gale, who denied any misconduct. Bartlett said the former co-worker then connected him with a woman whom he said was a victim of misconduct by Gale, and her story prompted Bartlett to ask Gale to withdraw from the race via email.

“Given the nature of the allegations, the details of them, I thought they were very credible,” Bartlett said. “I felt like I had no choice but to act.”

Bartlett declined to describe the allegations in more detail, saying the woman wanted to remain anonymous.

“We’re talking about a district attorney position, which is the chief law enforcement officer, who is supposed to be prosecuting crimes and be an advocate for victims,” Bartlett said. “And certainly the conversations I had caused me to question his fitness.”

Gale interned and worked as a prosecutor early in his law career. From 1999 to 2004, he worked in civil litigation at Unum. He left that job to work as a defense attorney at firms in Portland and then in Saco. He has had his own practice since 2013.

Gale previously told the Portland Press Herald that he had left the job at Unum on his own accord and not as a result of disciplinary action. A spokesperson for Unum confirmed he had worked there, but declined to discuss his departure from the company. Former co-workers contacted by the Press Herald declined or did not respond to requests for comment about his time there.

Gale does not have a criminal record in Maine and has never been disciplined for ethics violations.

This is the first time in 28 years that the district attorney job has been open. Incumbent Stephanie Anderson took office in 1991 and was re-elected six times. She is not seeking re-election and has endorsed Sahrbeck as her replacement.

The latest campaign finance reports filed last week show the race has been an expensive one. Gale has raised more than $48,000 since he began his campaign last year. He reported spending nearly $39,000 so far. He has nearly $10,000 cash on hand for the final days of the campaign.

Sahrbeck has raised more than $37,000 and spent more than $28,000. He has nearly $9,000 cash on hand.

“Obviously, the decision made by the Maine Democratic Party to request Attorney Gale withdraw from the district attorney’s race is not a decision that comes lightly,” Sahrbeck wrote in an email.

The candidate nominated by Republicans, Randall Bates, a defense attorney from Yarmouth, dropped out of the race in September, saying the time wasn’t right for him to run. Bates’ and Gale’s names will still appear on the Nov. 6 ballot because the deadline has passed for candidates to have their names removed.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

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