A federal jury on Wednesday rejected a woman’s claims that Wiscasset jail officers abused her by ignoring her disability.

Candace Faller, 50, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court last year against the Two Bridges Regional Jail after she was arrested in 2016 on an operating under the influence charge that she still disputes.

Faller alleged the jail violated her rights under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing a female officer to conduct a pat-down search, which her attorney argued was a “reasonable accommodation” because she has post-traumatic stress disorder that is triggered by large, “aggressive” men in her personal space.

The seven women and two men on the jury found Faller did have a protected disability, but decided she was not discriminated against and did not, as she claimed during testimony, request an accommodation.

She sought compensatory damages, to be determined by the jury, and asked that the jail develop and provide staff with adequate training for people with disabilities.

Faller testified that she told jail officers she needed a female officer, but instead three male officers – who told the court Faller was uncooperative and a safety risk – restrained her and forced her into a holding cell, where she said she was pushed against a wall so hard her coccyx broke, ordered to get on her “hands and knees” on a mattress and groped her before a female officer stepped in.


The jail’s attorney, Peter Marchesi, said Wednesday that his client was grateful for the jury’s decision.

“They genuinely believed all along that this was a very unfortunate situation, a difficult set of circumstances that their officers were confronted with,” Marchesi said.

Those officers testified that they had no independent recollection of Faller requesting a female officer and that it was not reflected in any of their reports from the time. While the incident was caught on the jail’s surveillance video, which the jury watched several times this week, accounts varied as to whether the footage proved Faller was handled with unreasonable or excessive force.

Because there was no sound attached, jurors couldn’t hear what officers or Faller were shouting. Officers denied Faller’s allegations that she was ordered on her hands and knees. They also testified they couldn’t remember her mentioning any back pain or reporting any injury.

Faller’s attorney, Samuel Riotte, said in an email Wednesday that it’s “always disappointing when the jury returns a verdict that’s not in your client’s favor.”

“But I am proud of Ms. Faller asserting her rights and taking her case to the finish line,” he wrote.


Riotte said in closing arguments that the jury had everything it needed to find that the jail violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Her therapist testified in a deposition that Faller has a diagnosed disability that impairs her day-to-day life – she has trouble eating, she isolates, and she’s visibly uncomfortable around large, controlling men she doesn’t know.

Riotte argued it was clear the jail refused to make a “reasonable accommodation” for Faller’s disability when corrections officers didn’t wait for a female officer to conduct her pat-down search, as required by federal law, and that they clearly violated the ADA by discriminating against Faller given her disability.

Officers testified that she was being uncooperative – shouting, trying to spin out of their grasp – which justified their increasingly physical response.

But Riotte said that was Faller’s disability manifesting. Jurors heard from a deposition with Faller’s therapist Tuesday that Faller often enters a “fight or flight” mode when triggered.

“She’s having a panic attack,” Riotte said. “She’s crying, she’s hyperventilating, because of her disability.”

Marchesi told jurors before their verdict that it was actually the other way around – officers were the ones tasked with addressing what they perceived as a threat to safety at the jail. Officers were “doing the best they could” in a bad situation they didn’t create.


Marchesi said that when jurors watched the surveillance footage, they would see officers like Paul Rubashkin, the central officer in Faller’s complaint, reacting to what he perceived as a threat to safety at the jail.

“He had two choices – do something or do nothing,” Marchesi said. “He had to choose in the moment, with no policy or guidance. … And most importantly, with no second chance. … His choice was to act.”

Many of the central allegations in Faller’s lawsuit – that officers ignored her requests for a female officer, threw her against the wall twice, breaking her tailbone, ordered her on her hands and knees, and groped her – ultimately depended on what Faller said she remembered.

Marchesi argued her memory was not only affected by the passage of time, seven years in this case, but also by alcohol and drugs, which Faller admitted to using at the time, according to police and jail reports from 2016.

“So when she asks you to rely on her memory (for) the most important pieces of her case – ‘ I definitely asked for a reasonable accommodation’ – can you rely on that?” Marchesi said.

Staff Writer Matt Byrne contributed to this report. 

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