Court news: Knox County, U.S. First District Court

Thu, 11/18/2021 - 3:00pm

    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. There have been court delays since the onset of COVID-19 and some jurisdictions are still catching up from a backlog of cases from last year.

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


    Richard Ellis

    Richard Ellis, 34, of Camden, was arrested Sept. 15 by Camden Police for allegedly holding a woman against her will for more than a week and assaulting her multiple times. He was charged with kidnapping, gross sexual assault, aggravated assault, criminal threatening, obstructing the report of a crime or injury and violation of a condition of release.

    Ellis made his initial court appearance in Knox County Court Friday afternoon, Sept. 17, where Judge John Martin set his bail at $100,000 cash with no third party bail allowed. The District Attorney’s Office has filed a motion to revoke his bail based on a previous domestic assault case from February.

    Update: Ellis remains at the Knox County Jail. He will appear in court again Nov. 18 for a dispositional conference.*

    Christopher Hast 

    Christopher Hast, 32, of Rockland, is a Stockton Springs part-time police officer who was arrested Nov. 1 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 and continued until Oct. 27.

    He made his initial court appearance in Knox County Court Nov. 3 before Judge John Martin, who set bail at $10,000 cash.

    Update: Hast posted bail and was released from the Knox County Jail. He will appear in court again Jan. 27 for a dispositional conference.

    Malcolm Stewart of Castle Builders 

    Malcolm Stewart, 56, the former owner of Castle Builders in Union, has been free on $50,000 cash bail after the state issued a warrant for his arrest March 25 for two counts of theft by deception. He was indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury in March for theft by deception of over $400,000 from consumers throughout the Midcoast.

    Stewart is currently residing in Pelzer, South Carolina, where he is receiving kidney dialysis treatments for end stage renal disease, according to the court document.

    Update: Stewart appeared via video conference at a hearing Sept. 30 on the defendant’s motion to amend bail from a previous hearing on June 27. Justice Jeffrey Hjelm approved the motion. Stewart is now permitted to travel to locations in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee for work purposes. He can only travel to these locations if he provides advance notice to Maine Pretrial Services and if MPS approves any such trip, according to the court document.  

    “The case shall be referred for a judicial assisted settlement conference,” said Justice Hjelm. “The court will seek to schedule the conference toward the end of this year to allow a limited yet reasonable amount of additional time for the defendant to retain counsel without delaying the pretrial progression of this case.”

    When Stewart obtains his green card (he is a Canadian citizen), he must immediately surrender the document to the court, according to the state.

    Dr. Lawrence Singer

    Lawrence Singer, D.D.S., 67, of Camden, was arrested at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office in Rockland April 28. He self-reported after he was notified that a warrant had been issued by the court for his arrest for one count of alleged unlawful sexual contact with a child under the age of 12.

    He was released from the Knox County Jail after posting $2,500 cash bail.

    Update: Singer was indicted by Knox County Grand Jury in early Nov. for unlawful sexual contact to a child younger than 12 years. He will appear in court again Dec. 16 for a dispositional conference.


    Mary E Schooner passenger files lawsuit against Maine Maritime Museum in Bath

    The Mary E, owned by the museum, tipped onto its side on the evening of July 30 after sustaining a knock-down while on a voyage with 18 people on board near Doubling Point. The vessel, built in 1906, was on a sail, the “Schooner Mary E: Kennebec River Sail and Lighthouse Adventure” with 18 passengers aboard when she began to list, eventually leaning on her port side. 

    Karen Baldwin, who is listed as a Maine resident and represented by Attorney Joseph M. Orlando, Jr., of Orlando and Associates in Gloucester, Massachusetts, filed a lawsuit Oct. 19, in U.S. District Court, disputing the museum’s claims for immunity.

    Update: Two additional passengers on the Mary E, Allison and Thomas Poirier, also filed counterclaims disputing the museum’s claims for immunity Nov. 12. They are represented by Attorney Stephen W. Koerting of Portland.

    The attorney representing the Maine Maine Museum, William H. Welte, of Camden, filed a motion for entry of default Nov. 16.

    “The Maine Maritime Museum respectfully submits that an entry of default is proper at this time against all potential claimants, known and unknown, who failed to file a claim and answer before Nov. 15, 2021,” according to the court document. 

    The three existing claims of  Karen Baldwin, Allison Poirier and Thomas Poirier, are pending before the court and not the subject of this motion.

    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.

    Update: On Nov. 5, a hearing regarding a discovery dispute was held following a request filed by the attorneys for Andrew Cavanaugh. The dispute related to an extraction report from the plaintiff's cell phone, which the plaintiff received after serving a third-party subpoena on the Knox County Sheriff's Office, according to the court document.

    “The defendants contended that it was inappropriate for Knox County to have produced the full extraction report to the plaintiff only and a partial extraction report to all parties, and argued that the plaintiff was obligated to produce the full report to them,” said Magistrate Judge John H. Rich III.

    “The plaintiff, on the other hand, noted that the parties had agreed to restrict the scope of her Knox County subpoena to only documents relating to the allegations in her complaint and asserted that much of the information contained in the full extraction report is irrelevant.”

    The Judge ruled on Nov. 8 that “the defendants' request for the full extraction report, which contains many thousands of records relating to messages and phone calls that the plaintiff made and/or received during a particular period, overbroad and not proportional to the needs of the case.”

    The Judge concluded, and the plaintiff agreed, that the defendants were entitled to the portions of the full extraction report relating to the claims, defenses and uncontested discovery requests in the case. 

    Additionally, the defendants must produce a list of their designated expert witnesses to the court by Dec. 2.

    The lawsuit will be ready for trial in March, according to the court document.

    Sarah Shepherd can be reached at