June 14, 2011

Former 'American Idol' contestant from Maine will face real judge

Jessica Cunningham Candage is arrested after police say she punched her husband outside a Portland hotel.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — A two-time "American Idol" contestant is scheduled to go before a real judge this month after being arrested Sunday night on charges of domestic violence following the Old Port Festival.

Jessica Candage, 25, who competed on the show under her maiden name Jessica Cunningham, was spotted in front of the Portland Harbor Hotel on Fore Street at 7:45 p.m. by a Portland police officer who said it appeared she was holding her husband back from walking toward the officer.

When Officer Chris Hawley approached the couple, he reported seeing Candage punch her husband, Craig Candage Jr., in the face several times. The report said Craig Candage had small cuts on his face from the alleged assault.

Hawley separated the couple. Jessica Candage explained that they had been out in the Old Port eating dinner and she had tried to stop her husband from driving, the officer said.

Craig Candage supported that story on Monday. He said that if anything, he should have been the one in trouble, not his wife.

"It was Old Port Fest, we were out with friends. We had just gotten into an argument over something and I said, 'I'm taking off,' " Craig Candage said, adding that he could not recall what the argument was about. "I never had any intention of doing it (driving). It was more threatening on my end.

"She obviously didn't take it well for me to be doing that. It's not in her personality," he said. "In my opinion, it shows she cares more than anything, rather than letting me do it. I could have hurt other people."

He said the incident isn't representative of the couple's marriage, though they are both passionate people, he said.

Craig Candage did not want to press charges, but the officer said he was obligated, after witnessing the incident, to arrest Jessica Candage on domestic violence assault charges.

"If (police) had known the situation, they should have taken me away for stupidity instead of her away for what she did," Craig Candage said.

Jessica Candage was taken to Cumberland County Jail and released on unsecured bail of $1,000, meaning if she does not show up for her court date June 30, she will have to forfeit the money.

She is a Bridgton native who lists her current hometown as Yarmouth.

On "American Idol," she almost made it into the group of the final 24 contestants, both last year and the year before. She was praised for her appearance and her voice and still sings in southern Maine, as well as working as a waitress and hairdresser.

When voted off the show in February, she exited with a degree of infamy, responding to the judges' rejection by delivering a two-fisted obscene gesture in her final on-screen interview.


Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: dhench@pressherald.com


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