News and Commentary

Man Falsely Accused Of Sexual Assault Awarded $1.8 Million In Damages

A former Maine resident who was falsely accused of rape has been awarded an additional $1.8 million in damages, the second award he has received over the ordeal in the past six months.

Vladek Filler was accused 12 years ago of repeatedly sexually assaulting his wife, Ligia, as the couple was divorcing and bitterly fighting for custody of their children. When Vladek told Ligia he would take their two sons with him and move to Georgia to be near his mother, she began making accusations against him.

The University of Michigan’s National Registry of Exonerations (NRE) said that Ligia became angry after Vladek’s suggestion, and “ran into the street from the family home holding one of the boys, yelling that she wanted to kill her husband for molesting and abusing their children and that she feared he would kill their 12-year-old son.”

As The Daily Wire previously reported, Vladek was “found guilty of one count of gross sexual assault and two counts of misdemeanor assault,” even though social services determined there was no evidence of child abuse and a physician testified there were no signs of sexual abuse. His attorneys argued for a new trial, and in 2011, he was found guilty for one count of misdemeanor assault and sentenced to 21 days in jail.

He filed a complaint with the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar, alleging the prosecutor in his case had acted improperly by withholding exculpatory evidence.

Vladek was exonerated in 2015 and filed a federal lawsuit against more than a dozen defendants, including a nurse who told his wife to cry when testifying to “seem real.” In Sept. 2018, nearly three years after he filed his lawsuit, Vladek settled his lawsuit with all but one of the defendants for $375,000.

At the time, the claims against the nurse were still pending, but now a senior U.S. district judge in Maine has ordered Linda Gleason to pay Vladek $1.77 million in damages, according to the Bangor Daily News. Gleason is the registered nurse who testified against Vladek at two trials and is a friend of his ex-wife’s.

Judge John Woodcock wrote in his ruling that Gleason is “extremely culpable” in Vladek’s wrongful conviction, having testified against him and advised his wife how to make the false allegations seem more believable.

“She has not come clean even to this day,” Woodcock wrote. “Ms. Gleason did not merely set a ball in motion and watch it roll. She continued to push it, testifying falsely as a witness, adding to her credibility by calling on her professionalism as a nurse. She must have known that he had been wrongfully convicted on two occasions and yet, she never told the truth.”

Further, according to court documents reviewed by the News, Woodcock compared Vladek’s “horrendous” experience to that of the protagonist in Franz Kafka’s “The Trial,” a book often cited when talking about the lack of due process in court cases.

“Mr. Filler endured a living nightmare,” Woodcock wrote. “Falsely accused by his then-wife and her friend of committing heinous crimes, he was wrongfully charged, tried and convicted of those charges, and it took him eight years to be fully exonerated. Mr. Filler’s experience is no one’s idea of justice in this state or country.”

The News reported that Gleason appears to be representing herself.

“The surreal nightmare my family and I were put through has been devastating,” Vladek said in response to the judgement, according to the News. “From day one, and throughout both criminal trials, the truth was available to the officials involved, but they ignored and suppressed the truth, and deliberately kept it from the eyes and ears of the jury.”