A lawsuit accusing District Court Judge Charles Budd of sexual harassment has been dropped. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a sexual harassment lawsuit against former District Court Judge Charles F. Budd Jr., in part because he did not offer either woman who sued him job advancement or threaten retaliation in connection with any of his alleged overtures.

Samantha Pike filed the lawsuit on Nov. 16, 2022, in U.S. District Court in Bangor claiming that Budd sexually harassed her. She works as a program director of Outpatient Substance Use Disorder Services at Wellspring, Inc., in Bangor and is a member of the Penobscot County Adult Drug Treatment Court that Budd was assigned to.

She alleged 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.

Five days later on Nov. 21, Natasha Irving, district attorney for the midcoast region, joined the lawsuit claiming that Budd sexually propositioned her within minutes of being introduced to him for the first time at the conference.

“… [T]he allegations in this case do not describe a plausible quid pro quo or retaliation scenario,” U.S. District Judge Lance Walker said in his 26-page ruling. “The allegations simply fail to suggest that Budd ever attempted to exert or even pretended to have any authority over Pike’s [or Irving’s] employment prospects or any other aspect of her life.”

“More specifically, Budd neither promised advancement nor threatened adverse consequences in connection with any of the alleged sexual overtures,” Walker said.

Walker also determined that Budd was not acting in his position as a judge when he allegedly propositioned Irving and Pike.

Budd’s attorney, Melissa Hewey of Portland, said Wednesday that Budd “denies that he ever made demeaning comments or did anything inappropriate to make the plaintiffs — or anyone — feel uncomfortable,” she said.  “That said, we are pleased that Judge Walker agreed with our position and appreciate his careful analysis resulting in the dismissal of the complaint.”

The plaintiffs’ attorney Laura White of Kennebunk said in court filings that “Judge Budd held a position of ultimate power over Mrs. Pike and DA Irving, and his authority over them was related to each of their jobs. Judge Budd made both plaintiffs feel incredibly uncomfortable and humiliated at a work-related conference.”

The lawyer said Wednesday that her clients are considering appealing Walker’s ruling to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

Budd 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.

Former Gov. Paul LePage appointed Budd to the District Court bench in December 2015. To remain a judge, Budd needed to be renominated by Gov. Janet Mills early this year but he did not seek renomination to the position, according to the governor’s office.