ELLSWORTH – A Gouldsboro man accused of forcing his wife to engage in a sex act was charged with rape Friday in Hancock County Superior Court.
The charge of Class A gross sexual assault against Vladek Filler, 39, stems from an incident that allegedly occurred April 6 at the couple’s Gouldsboro home.
However, according to a statement of probable cause written by Gouldsboro Police Chief Guy Wycoff after he interviewed the alleged victim, that night was not the first time Filler had sexually assaulted his wife.
The woman told Wycoff that her husband often forced her into sex acts when he was upset and that the assaults had been going on since the couple moved to Gouldsboro in 2004. She said that on many occasions there were also other physical assaults by Filler, and she kept a journal of how often the assaults occurred.
Kim Roberts-Fer, executive director of Rape Response Services in Bangor, said spousal sexual assault is not uncommon, nor is the combination of physical and sexual abuse.
“I think that it happens more than people think,” she said Friday by telephone. “Some of it comes in as domestic violence, but they don’t always identify the sexual assault. I would love to see more people understand that both are crimes.”
Roberts-Fer also said that when sexual assault occurs in the context of a relationship, it is likely an ongoing pattern rather than a one-time thing.
Anthony Beardsley, an Ellsworth attorney who represented Filler in court on Friday, said his client denies the charges.
“We feel there is a custody component involved in this,” Beardsley said, referring to the couple’s children.
According to Wycoff’s statement, Filler was upset with his wife on April 6 because she had used his car and money from his bank account to get a haircut.
Filler began yelling at his wife, calling her vulgar names, then grabbed her by the arms and pulled her into a bathroom. As he initiated the sexual act, the woman said, she resisted and struggled to get free. When Filler pulled her pants down, she was crying and begging her husband to stop, the statement said.
Filler did not stop and continued calling her names as he sodomized her.
At Friday’s court hearing, Filler did not enter a plea and spoke only to answer “yes” when Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm asked whether he understood the charges.
Bail was set at $10,000 cash or $50,000 surety.
Beardsley had argued for a lower bail based on the fact that his client had no criminal record. Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellett, however, said that because Filler has lived in Gouldsboro for only about three years he was a potential flight risk and Hjelm agreed.
The case likely will be presented to the next Hancock County grand jury, which convenes in June, Kellett said.
Gross sexual assault is a Class A crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison. It also is one of the more difficult crimes to prosecute, and Roberts-Fer said it becomes even more difficult when the cases involve spouses.
“It’s much more difficult even to report violence against someone that you love,” she said. “Victims often feel a great deal of guilt and oftentimes the perpetrator encourages that guilt. And then to have to go into detail about that abuse in court, in front of a jury.”
Roberts-Fer said she hopes cases like this draw awareness to the fact that rape can happen even in committed relationships such as marriage.