MACHIAS, Maine — A “joke gone too far” has resulted in the formal reprimand of Machias attorney Jeffrey Davidson.

After reviewing a courthouse encounter on Sept. 27, 2011, between Davidson and Lt. Mary Zidalis of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar has cited Davidson for “professional misconduct.”

The incident that prompted Zidalis’ “offensive actions” complaint against Davidson was grounded in a comment he admits he made to her 45 minutes before she testified in a case in which Davidson was defending a Washington County jail inmate accused of assaulting a fellow inmate.

The complaint alleges that, before the start of the trial as Zidalis walked by Davidson, he asked her, “Have you ever been raped?” She responded that his question was a personal question. Davidson then commented, “Well, get ready because today will be your first time.”

Zidalis then walked away and reported the remark to a colleague and later to her superiors.

The Board of Overseers’ finding says that Zidalis and Davidson were not strangers to each other, noting they had had a “joking, bantering, competitive relationship” over several years.

“But [Davidson’s] remark had a very unsettling effect upon her minutes before her testimony,” the finding reads in part. “Davidson views this as a joke that went too far, but the panel believes that the word ‘rape’ in this setting was unsettling to her as a witness, as well as unprofessional and prejudicial to the administration of justice.”