Court news roundup: Knox County and U.S. First District Court

Wed, 02/14/2024 - 8:00pm

    ROCKLAND/PORTLAND — Court cases, both on the state and federal levels, can take several months or years for a conviction or dismissal, a bench or jury trial, or to reach a settlement.

    The litigation process includes several ongoing components, including initial court appearances, arraignments, dispositional conferences, motion hearings, and in some cases jury and trial preparation.

    The following comprises multiple ongoing court cases, and represents a periodic update on their judicial movement.


    Dylan Thornton

    Dylan Thornton, 20, of Warren, has been charged with one count of Cruelty to Animals, a Class D crime, after Knox County Sheriff's deputies obtained a video that showed a cat being abused. 

    The Sheriff's Office investigated the case on November 18, 2023, at approximately 5 p.m., and though the case remains ongoing, deputies identified and charged Thornton.

    Because the case is ongoing, more charges are possible, according to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office in a press release on Nov. 19, 2023.

    Update: Thornton will make his first court appearance in Knox County Court on Feb. 26. To date, only a complaint has been filed in court by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. A police affidavit detailing the alleged charges will be filed before Thornton’s court appearance.

    Christopher Hast 

    Christopher Hast, 32, of Rockland, is a Stockton Springs part-time police officer who was arrested Nov. 1, 2021, for allegedly assaulting a teenage girl several times during the past seven months.

    He was charged with 12 counts of Class B gross sexual assault for offenses that police say began in April 2021 and continued until Oct. 27, 2021.

    Hast made his initial court appearance in Knox County Court Nov. 3, 2021 before Judge John Martin, who set bail at $10,000 cash. Hast posted bail and was released from the Knox County Jail. He appeared in court again Jan. 27, 2022 for a dispositional conference.

    Update: Hast will appear in court again Feb. 22, 2024, for another dispositional conference after a series of conferences were scheduled since 2022. A jury trial was expected to have started at the end of October 2023, but Hast has medical issues. The trial is now tentatively scheduled for February 2024, and it is not confirmed what county the trial will be held.

    The alleged charges that will be presented at trial are gross sexual assault, five counts, sexual exploitation of a minor, three counts, and possession of sexually explicit material, four counts.



    Fishermen charged with fraud, violation of herring laws

    The fishermen and seafood dealers who were indicted in 2022 with conspiracy, mail fraud, and obstruction of justice in connection with a multi-year scheme to sell unreported Atlantic herring and falsify fishing records will be going to trial.

    Named as defendants in the case are Glenn Robbins, 76, of Eliot; Ethan Chase, 46, of Portsmouth, N.H.; Neil Herrick, 48, of Rockland; Stephen Little, 58, of Warren; Jason Parent, 51, of Owls Head; Dustin Reed, 41, of Waldoboro; Glenn Lawrence, 70, of Owls Head; Samuel Olson, 73, of Cushing; the Western Sea, Inc. of Rockland; New Moon Fisheries, of Waldoboro; and Sam’s Seafood of Cushing, according to the court document.

    According to the indictment, between June 2016 and September 2019, the owner, captains, and crew aboard the fishing vessel Western Sea sold more than 2.6 million pounds of Atlantic herring that was not reported to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The indictment alleges that members of the crew were paid directly by fish dealers and lobster vessel operators for the unreported herring.

    Atlantic herring is defined as a small schooling fish that serves as a primary bait for Maine’s lobster industry.

    Maine herring regulations require harvester vessels to send an email to the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) three hours prior to landing with information regarding the harvester, vessel and total catch. NOAA relies upon accurate reports to set polices designed to ensure a sustainable fishery, requires all dealers to submit, on a weekly basis, electronic dealer reports detailing information about the fish purchased, the federal agency said.

    In September 2019, the Maine Patrol was surveilling the Western Sea in an attempt to quantify how much herring the fishing vessel had harvested and offloaded in Rockland. Court documents state that the Marine Patrol witnessed the Double Eagle pull up alongside the Western Sea at the Rockland Fish Pier and receive herring, which was later offloaded in Stonington.

    Update: Initially the trial was scheduled to begin in September 2023, then there was a delay until January 2024, and now the jury trial is scheduled for March 2024.


    Lawsuit alleging excessive force by Rockland Police

    A lawsuit was filed in U. S. District Court March 4, 2022 by Glennis K. Lane, 81, of Vinalhaven, claiming that Rockland police used excessive force.   

    She is represented by Attorney Gregory Snow, of Rockland.

    Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the City of Rockland, City Manager Tom Luttrell, former Officer Michael Rolerson, former Police Chief Christopher Young, and two unidentified police officers.

    The lawsuit alleges that the City of Rockland is liable for the acts and omissions of Rolerson, who applied physical force that is unreasonable or unnecessary for the particular circumstances.

    Luttrell and Young also neglected their responsibilities as policymakers due to their negligence in training, directing, disciplining, and ensuring compliance with department policy on the part of Rolerson in a timely manner to protect the woman from bodily injuries and emotional distress, the complaint said.

    Lane is seeking judgement for the award of damages, fees, and costs in accordance with and provided by federal and state law.

    “Glennis Lane suffered and will continue to suffer pain, mental anguish as well as embarrassment and humiliation from her arrest to her release,” the lawsuit states.

    Update: The defense was granted a delay to respond to the allegations on March 29, 2022. The case is scheduled for trial in early April 2024.


    MVHS graduate files suit, alleges sexual harassment by former principal

    Litigation continues in the lawsuit filed in December 2019 by a former Medomak Valley High School student, alleging that during her junior and senior years, she was subjected to daily sexually harassment and discrimination by the former principal, Andrew Cavanaugh. MSAD 40/RSU 40, Medomak Valley High School and Social worker Chuck Nguyen are also listed as defendants.

    U.S. District Court Judge John A. Woodcock set a trial date of June 5, 2023 after he ruled that three counts in a lawsuit filed against Cavanaugh and Nguyen can move forward.

    Update: The trial date is delayed. Status reports for the victims and defendant were due in U.S. District Court in January 2024 and now that date has been changed to May 2024.

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