District Court Judge Charles F. Budd Jr. has asked a federal judge to dismiss the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by the midcoast district attorney and a drug court case manager.
The motion, filed Friday, argued that the federal complaint should be dismissed because Budd, 54, of Bangor did not offer the women anything in exchange for his alleged sexual advances and because the harassment allegedly took place in a social setting at a conference and not in the workplace.
In the motion to dismiss, Budd’s Portland attorney, Melissa Hewey, described Budd’s behavior as “inappropriate” and “unprofessional” but not illegal under Maine law. She also said that his conduct was not “a judicial act.”
Budd is expected to dispute the allegation in future legal filings.
Samantha Pike, who in her role as program director of Outpatient Substance Use Disorder Services at Wellspring, Inc., in Bangor filed the lawsuit on Nov. 16 accusing Budd of sexually harassing her. She claimed 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.
Pike, 37, of Bangor was part of the Penobscot County Adult Drug Court Treatment program in Bangor that worked with Budd, the judge assigned to the specialty court.
Five days later on Nov. 21, Natasha Irving joined the lawsuit alleging that Budd sexually propositioned her within minutes of being introduced to him for the first time at the conference.
Irving, 40, of Waldoboro is the head prosecutor for Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties.
The women’s attorney, Laura White of Kennebunk, said Monday that the motion was an attempt to minimize Budd’s conduct.
“This case is about the intense and overtly sexual pursuit of women at a conference that Judge Budd attended in his role as a judge,” White, who plans to oppose the motion, said.
“Although this alleged conduct was not a judicial act, my clients are convinced that Judge Budd took the opportunity to sexually harass them precisely because of the status he enjoyed as a judge,” the lawyer continued. “We have alleged unwanted sexual advances not in Judge Budd’s personal life, but in his role as a representative of the state of Maine judiciary. Ms. Pike and Ms. Irving will vigorously oppose this motion to dismiss because they believe he intentionally abused a position of immense power, and he should be held responsible under the law.”
Motions to dismiss are common at this early stage of civil lawsuits.
The judge was placed on administrative leave in August by Chief Justice Valerie Stanfill, according to Amy Quinlan, the administrator for the court system. The reasons for the leave were not made public.
Budd was appointed in December 2015 to the District Court bench by former Gov. Paul LePage. To remain on the bench, Budd would need to be renominated by Gov. Janet Mills early next year but, so far, Budd has not sought renomination to the position, according to the governor’s office.