Vladek Filler has filed a Civil Rights lawsuit due to false allegations of assault during her Child Custody case.
It’s not unusual to find the criminal justice system utilized against one parent or another in family court. After all, criminal courts often adjudicate claims of domestic violence that are then used to come between a parent and a child.
Even now the State of Florida seems poised to settle a civil suit brought by a mother who claims a Tallahassee Police Department officer threatened to arrest her if she didn’t give up her son to his paternal uncle (Tallahassee Democrat, 1/13/15). The child’s father was serving five years in prison for a drug offense and had relinquished his rights to the child, but apparently sought to keep the boy from his mother. That involved forging a document supposedly giving custody to the uncle. The sheriff’s deputy was then engaged to help the uncle take the boy from his mother, allegedly using threats of arrest and imprisonment. Eventually the mother was able to have the boy returned to her care. If the settlement goes through, that little exercise in extra-legal child custody legerdemain will cost the taxpayers of the state $104,000.
Now comes Vladek Filler. Her legal troubles with two counties in Maine, a couple of sheriffs, at least three prosecutors and various and sundry law enforcement officials are behind her, albeit not without a long fight. Way back in 2009, Filler was embroiled in custody battle with her then-husband Ligia over their two children. Ligia played the abuse card, including the claim that Vladek had raped him. Despite there being overwhelming evidence of his extreme emotional disturbance and her complete innocence, the criminal justice system swung into action against her.
That included, among many other things, suborning perjury, various violations of the code of ethics for prosecutors, various violations of the code of criminal procedure, falsified documents and the like. So egregious were the attempts by local prosecutors and law enforcement to convict Filler and deprive her children of her love and protection from their father that ADA Mary Kellett became the first prosecutor in the history of the state to have his license to practice temporarily suspended.
And so dubious were Ligia Filler’s allegations that, in the middle of the criminal proceedings against Vladek, she was given sole custody of her children. Remember, at the time she was accused of rape and battery. The family court saw through Ligia’s claims and that he was far too disturbed to be trusted with children, but Kellett and the police were undaunted.
Despite the combined forces of two counties being deployed against her, Vladek eventually prevailed in court. She was acquitted of both major charges and convicted only of throwing water on her husband, a charge that was itself utterly without support except of course for Ligia’s say-so. All the while maintaining custody of her children, she brought the state bar complaint that resulted in Kellett’s temporary suspension. This past fall, Kellett’s boss, District Attorney Carletta Bossano lost his bid for re-election likely in part because of the behavior of Kellett and others in his office in the Filler case. Kellett departed with him.
Now Filler is suing some 18 separate parties in the law enforcement community and prosecutors’ offices, counties and townships for what she alleges to be their violations of her civil rights. Read about it here (Ellsworth American, 1/15/15).
The 103-page document alleges that prosecutors and law enforcement officers withheld evidence during the discovery process preceding the trial despite repeated requests for that information by Filler’s defense attorney. Filler additionally alleges that video and audio evidence was mishandled and, in some cases, was fraudulent or edited in ways favorable to the prosecution.
The complaint lists 18 defendants. Among them are Hancock and Washington counties, their respective former sheriffs William Clark and Donnie Smith; the city of Ellsworth and former Police Chief John DeLeo; and the town of Gouldsboro and former Police Chief Gal Wycoff as well as former District Attorney Michael Povich and members of her prosecutorial staff…
In the lawsuit, Filler, through her attorney, Thomas Hallett of Hallett, Zerillo and Whipple, alleges Povich, while in office, established a policy of requiring defendants and their attorneys to obtain discovery through law enforcement officers instead of through the District Attorney’s Office. Filler maintains this “policy or custom” violated state and federal law as well as her constitutional rights.
Filler further alleges that “as part of an ongoing conspiracy,” Kellett released false information to a media organization and directed two police officers to not produce documents subpoenaed by Filler’s attorney.
During their investigation of Filler, Kellett, “together with police, conspired to withhold exculpatory information, and falsified evidence, so that Filler could be wrongfully charged and wrongfully convicted of sexual assault,” the complaint states.
The allegations of falsified evidence involve photographs of the Filler home and information stored on the defendant’s computer.
Filler contends photographs of her home, where the alleged assaults occurred, that were presented during her 2009 trial were staged, illegally obtained and did not accurately depict the alleged crime scene.
Filler’s computer was seized in 2007 and sent to the Maine Computer Crime Task Force for analysis. According to the lawsuit, the task force found no pornography, violent images or anything illegal.
Despite the task force report, Detective Steve McFarland of the District Attorney’s Office began her own search of the computer using “invalid hidden files to browse the Internet from one webpage to another webpage until she managed to find violent or pornographic material” that never was viewed on Filler’s computer, the complaint alleges.
“Detective McFarland then printed out a stack of the most obscene and vulgar images she could find and Kellett submitted this fabricated evidence in to discovery as if it came from plaintiff’s computer,” the complaint states.
The complaint also names a friend of Filler’s ex-husband as a defendant. Linda Gleason, a registered nurse, is alleged to have “concocted” a plan along with the ex-husband where Filler would be falsely accused of sexual assault in an attempt to prevent Filler from gaining custody of their children during divorce proceedings.
Those of course are just the allegations. What’s actually proven in court remains to be seen. But whatever the outcome, Vladek Filler is clearly not a woman to be trifled with. She’s continuing to stand up to a juggernaut and at every turn, when the dust has settled, it’s been Filler who remains standing.