District Court Judge Charles Budd, seen in June 2020, has been accused of sexually harassing a woman who works on the Bangor drug court team while at a conference. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

A woman who works on the Penobscot County Adult Drug Treatment Court has sued the Bangor-based District Court judge who leads the program, alleging that he sexually harassed her at conference in July and again when she returned to work in Bangor.

Charles F. Budd Jr., 53, of Bangor was placed on administrative leave in late October by Chief Justice Valerie Stanfill. The reasons for the leave were not made public.

The lawsuit against Budd was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor by the woman’s attorney, Laura White of Kennebunk.

The woman, whom the Bangor Daily News is not naming, claims that Budd made unwelcome sexual advances toward her between July 25 and 28, 2022, while members of the treatment court team were attending the National Association of Drug Court Professionals conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Budd also said that he found two of the drug court clients “extremely attractive,” according to the complaint. He also allegedly tried to get the woman to invite the judge into her hotel room and said that his room was across the hall from hers when it was not.

One evening, the team went out to dinner and to a line dancing bar, the complaint said. The plaintiff felt that Budd’s sexual behavior toward her was escalating, and she pretended to go to the restroom but went outside with other female members of the team to get away from him. Budd allegedly accused her of “ditching” him in a text message.

The woman “was placed in extreme, pervasive, and severe fear that Judge Budd was going to sexually assault her that night,” the complaint said.

When she returned to Bangor, the woman reported Budd’s behavior to her supervisor, who in turn met with the human resources department of the Bangor drug treatment provider that employs her.

The judiciary employee who oversees drug court operations allegedly told the plaintiff in late June or early July that he had received a complaint about Budd and would be filing an “official complaint” about his behavior with the chief judge of the District Court.

The next time the woman saw Budd at a drug court meeting in August, he allegedly asked her to come back to his chambers. She did but stood in the doorway so the court officer was in sight because she was afraid of being alone with Budd, the complaint said.

Budd denied the allegations in the lawsuit through his attorney, Walter McKee of Augusta.

“Judge Budd was shocked to see this complaint,” McKee said. “He adamantly denies these allegations.”

District Court Judge Patrick Larson, who attended the Nashville conference, is now overseeing the drug court program in Bangor.

Budd was appointed in December 2015 to the District Court bench by former Gov. Paul LePage. To remain on the bench, Gov. Janet Mills would need to renominate him early next year.

Barbara Cardone, spokesperson for the court system, said that she could not comment on the allegations in the lawsuit.

“Because the matter relating to Judge Budd’s administrative leave is confidential, the judicial branch is unable to comment at this time,” she said Wednesday.