LVD News

Jury awards damages to ex-wife of Sabattus police chief.

The police chief of Sabattus on Wednesday lost a civil suit brought by his ex-wife who accused him of abusing her throughout their 24-year marriage.

 A jury of six men and three women deliberated for less than 90 minutes before awarding Lori Cougle $5,000 on a count of assault and battery and $5,000 on a count of infliction of emotional distress.

The jury did not find that Gary Baillargeon acted with malice against his ex-wife.

 Cougle's attorney, David Van Dyke, said after the verdict: "We wanted to establish that the abuse had happened for 24 years. It was horrible. She should have left earlier. She didn't. That's unfortunate for everyone . . . The jury spoke clearly."

 The three-day trial got underway Monday and wrapped up late Wednesday.

 Baillargeon and Cougle testified, as did their two children.

 According to the initial complaint filed in September 2014, six months after divorce proceedings began, Cougle said that during their marriage and specifically within the two years preceding the complaint, Baillargeon “committed multiple acts of physical assault and violence" upon her and “threatened further violence.”

 She also alleged he struck her on multiple occasions, “violently pushed her head into walls,” and frequently grabbed and restrained her body with “sufficient force and severity to cause injury.”

 Van Dyke said in his opening statement that this case was “about 24 years of domestic violence in (Cougle's) household by her ex-husband, who was for many years a police officer, and is now the police chief of Sabattus.”

Van Dyke said that even after the divorce proceedings began, she remained afraid to file a claim on the abuse and waited six months.

 “I wish that, rather than money, Lori could get some parts of her life back, but that's not the way our system works,” he told the jury.

 Sarah Glynn, the attorney representing Baillargeon, said Monday that the position of her and her client was that Cougle was “enraged that her husband had left the home.”

 “Gary and Lori had their issues, and it's not unusual that they would argue,” Glynn said. “Their interests were often at odds with one another.”

 She also asked the jury to consider the fact that despite the claims being levied against Baillargeon, no reports were filed to the police, counselors or doctors until six months after divorce proceedings began, and that no protection orders were filed.

 Sabattus Town Manager Tony Ward said Wednesday that town officials would investigate whether Baillargeon violated any standards of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and forward their findings to the academy of whether or not there appeared to be criminal conduct. The academy would determine whether Baillargeon would keep his certification. Certification is required of anyone serving as police chief, Ward said.

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