Seth Carey looks at a notepad in a Portland courtroom Wednesday. Carey, a candidate for district attorney in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, is facing disbarment over allegations of sexual assault of a client. Carey has denied the allegations and said he remains committed to seeking the DA seat. Credit: Jake Beliberg

A candidate for district attorney pressured a woman who was renting a room in his Rumford home to have sex with him for months last year, the woman told a court Wednesday.

On one occasion, Seth Carey entered her room late at night and groped her while she slept, the woman said in sworn testimony.

On another, the Republican nominee for district attorney in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties grabbed her head and forced it toward his crotch telling her to perform oral sex, she testified. Eventually, the woman said she installed a padlock on her door.

The testimony of the woman, who the Bangor Daily News is not naming because she’s the victim of alleged abuse, came in a proceeding over revoking Carey’s law license. Maine law requires that district attorneys be lawfully admitted to the bar.

Carey has vehemently denied that he sexually assaulted the woman and is suing her in a separate civil case. “I’m just hoping the truth comes out finally today,” Carey told reporters before the hearing began. He has not been charged with a related crime.

Carey’s lawyer, James Howaniec, said he is “concerned about the veracity of” the woman. Carey is expected to testify in his own defense Thursday and the hearing is likely to continue into Friday, and possibly later.

[Judge grants protection from abuse order against Maine district attorney candidate]

In March, a judge granted the woman a two-year protection from abuse order against Carey, prompting the group that oversees the conduct of Maine lawyers to launch the disbarment case. Nevertheless, he won the Republican primary in June, despite his license having been suspended and the party calling on him to drop out.

Carey previously represented the woman in court, and they had consensual sex once in 2017, she said. But she rebuffed Carey’s subsequent advances after learning he had a girlfriend, she said.

Eventually, the woman said she agreed to rent a room from Carey for $60 a week at a point when she was living in her car.

After she moved in, the woman said Carey pressured her for sex. She didn’t initially contact the police or leave “because I didn’t have a place to go,” she said.

[Even with a suspended law license, Republican Seth Carey still won a Maine DA primary]

Howaniec and a lawyer for Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar spent 30 minutes in Justice Thomas Warren’s chambers arguing over whether a recording of her could be introduced into evidence. It was not played in the open court Wednesday, and the woman is set to continue her testimony Thursday.

The court heard other testimony focused on a past complaint against Carey, the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar’s other disciplinary actions against him and his mental health.

Carey has been “diagnosed with a personality disorder,” William Nugent, the head of a professional organization that helps lawyers and judges with mental, emotional and substance-use issues, told the court.

Nugent, director of the Maine Assistance Program for Lawyers & Judges, said he first met Carey in 2009, when his law license was suspended, and has worked with him on and off since.

He didn’t specify the nature of Carey’s diagnosis but said it resulted in an “overzealousness” that’s been harmful to his law practice.

Nugent also said that his interactions with Carey have been “generally positive” and that he personally likes the lawyer. “There is no doubt in my mind that Seth cares a lot about his clients,” Nugent said.

Sitting at a courtroom table, Carey wiped his eyes with a tissue as Nugent spoke about his passion for his work.

The Maine Republican Party is not supporting Carey for district attorney. He is running against Andrew Robinson, the incumbent Democrat.

If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 1-800-871-7741.

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