David Crook, the former longtime district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, speaks outside Waterville District Court in 1997. Crook died this past November at age 77. Morning Sentinel file

When Julia Vigue was first hired in the 1980s as a victim witness advocate in the Kennebec and Somerset counties district attorney’s office, she was warned that she may not get along with the office’s tough boss, David Crook.

Crook, the district attorney, was “gruff.” Vigue, on the other hand, was “tender-hearted.”

But she soon realized that behind the rough exterior was a prosecutor who was doing all that he could to hold criminals accountable.

“For about 12 minutes, I was afraid of him,” Vigue said. “Then, I realized, he was doing what I was trying to do, which was push for justice and help victims in any way he could.”

That relentless sense of justice, along with his compassion for victims of crimes, are how colleagues and friends are remembering Crook, who served as district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties for more than two decades.

Crook died Nov. 11 after his third bout with cancer. He was 77 and had been splitting time between his homes in Rome and Florida.


Originally from Maine, Crook was hired as a prosecutor for the Kennebec and Somerset district attorney’s office in 1975. After being elected as district attorney in an unopposed election in 1978, the Democrat served six consecutive terms until 2002, winning each election either unopposed or by comfortable margins.

A Kennebec Journal news story from Nov. 2, 1978.

As the counties’ chief criminal prosecutor, he took an especially harsh approach in cases involving child abuse, drugs and operating under the influence, colleagues said. Crook, by his own tally of about 1,500, prosecuted more child abuse and sexual abuse cases than any other DA in Maine at the time, according to his daughter, Kendra Crook.

“These were all very difficult cases going almost into territory that was not that well charted, and he didn’t shy away from it at all,” said Evert Fowle, who was Crook’s first assistant DA for seven years and went on to replace him as district attorney.

David Crook, the former longtime district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, speaks outside Waterville District Court in 1997. Crook died this past November at age 77. Morning Sentinel file

Crook was also a proponent of victims’ rights, helping to establish the office’s victim witness advocate position early in his career and later supporting state legislators in passing a Victim’s Bill of Rights.

By the end of his 24 years as DA, his office had collected $6.2 million in restitution for crime victims, according to a Morning Sentinel report.

“When I first started it, the victims were stunned to get it,” Crook told the Morning Sentinel in 2002, a few weeks before he left the post. “Now they get (angry) when they don’t get it. That’s the ultimate success: We’ve changed the expectation level of crime victims.”


Crook, a native Mainer born in 1946, graduated from Brewer High School and the University of Maine. He began his career as a teacher and coach at Madison High School, but soon decided to go to law school.

After graduating with his law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1972, Crook began his new career as an assistant DA in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.

In 1975, he came back to Maine as an assistant DA for Kennebec and Somerset counties. When his boss, Joseph Jabar, announced he would be running for attorney general in 1978, Crook ran for the position unopposed and began his 24-year stint as the two counties’ top prosecutor.

Crook led an office that took a particular interest in prosecuting child abuse and drug cases. His longtime deputy, Alan Kelley, took the lead on the child abuse cases, while Fowle prosecuted many of the drug cases for the last seven years of Crook’s career.

“He gave me a chance when I started out, and I tried to make the most of my chance,” said Fowle, who after succeeding Crook became a judge. “He was a stern taskmaster. But he was always encouraging and supportive of what we did.”

Among his other close colleagues was current Gov. Janet Mills, a fellow Democrat who overlapped with Crook for more than a decade as the DA in the neighboring jurisdiction of Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties.


The two had “a friendship that was anchored in weekly phone calls where we compared our notes, not just about what was happening in the courts or in the legislature, but about what was happening in the wider world,” Mills said in a statement. “David was a creative and compassionate prosecutor who gave second chances, especially to young or first-time offenders, and it always made me proud to see how those individuals gained a new respect for others and gratitude for what life had given them.”

As an elected official, Crook embraced the politics involved in holding the DA’s office. But it was never a distraction for his staff, Fowle said.

A Morning Sentinel news column from Dec. 9, 1988.

“He insulated us from the politics of the office,” Fowle said. “We were turned loose to prosecute our cases fully and fairly. If there were any political issues to be dealt with … he dealt with them.”

To that end, Crook was no stranger to the media, often holding press conferences to tout his office’s accomplishments.

“This will not be a white Christmas in Greater Waterville,” he declared in 1988, after showing reporters a brick of cocaine worth $200,000.

But as an outspoken public figure, criticism came with the job.


After he openly criticized a judge for his light-handed sentencing in a 1995 case of operating under the influence, a state judges’ association filed a formal complaint against Crook, though the Board of Overseers of the Bar ruled in Crook’s favor. Crook also clashed with officials over recording a 1996 Kennebec County Commissioners meeting and later settled a federal claim related to the incident.

Ahead of the 1994 election, his competitor and former colleague, Pamela Ames, accused Crook of sexual harassment. Crook denied the claims and Ames later said the allegations were “created” by a reporter.

His prosecution of drug cases also drew criticism amid the nationwide “war on drugs.” In the same 1994 election, pro-marijuana activists distributed fliers accusing Crook of assaulting his wife, among other claims. Crook denied the allegations, as did police, who called them “garbage.”

“He’s a jerk, but a loveable jerk,” is how a “veteran observer” described Crook in a 1994 Morning Sentinel column that was largely critical of his stance against marijuana.

A Morning Sentinel news story from March 15, 2002, about David Crook deciding not to run again as district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset after 30 years in office.

Nevertheless, when he retired in 2002, Crook left the office proud of his accomplishments.

“I think I have impacted the lives of a lot of people in this state,” Crook said at the time. “I think I’ve helped some people, and I’m leaving some extremely competent people to carry on.”


Crook leaves behind his wife of 55 years, Barbara, two children and three grandchildren, along with several close friends.

One of those friends, Reggie Michaud, was also a victim represented by Crook. Former Waterville Mayor Thomas J. Brazier stole $100,000 working as an accountant for Michaud’s glass company, a charge he pleaded guilty to in 1995.

When contacted recently, Michaud didn’t want to comment on that case. Instead, he chose to remember Crook as his longtime fishing buddy.

“He was great to me,” Michaud said. “He was a nice guy. He was a good friend.”

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