No criminal charges in suit

CALAIS — Assistant district attorney Paul Cavanaugh said Tuesday that no criminal charges have been filed against Steven Pagels, who recently was ordered to pay $1.89 million in damages to a family member as the result of a civil trial in Machias Superior Court.

The plaintiff claimed Pagels sexually assaulted her numerous times from the time she was seven till after she reached the age of 15.

The district attorney’s office does not pursue criminal charges unless a complaint is filed with a police department. The burden of proof is much stronger in a criminal case than that required in a civil case, Cavanaugh said. Despite the finding in favor of the victim in this case, that in itself is not enough to pursue criminal charges, he explained.

The victim filed the civil lawsuit against Pagels in July 2012, accusing him of sexual assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress through sexual abuse and reckless infliction of emotional distress.

Pagels is the owner of Downeast Windjammer Cruises, which on Mount Desert Island, runs tour boats out of Bar Harbor, a ferry service between Bar Harbor and Winter Harbor and another ferry service between Southwest Harbor and the Cranberry Isles.

In awarding the judgment, Justice Donald Alexander wrote that Pagels’ “conduct was so extreme and outrageous as to exceed all possible bounds of decency and must be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable.” As a result, Pagels’ actions caused severe emotional distress which led to mental heath issues, including a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse, Alexander wrote.

In court, Pagels claimed the woman fabricated the allegations as the result of her mental health issues. Alexander found otherwise, stating that the underlying mental health issue is post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the “years of degradation, sexual assault and rapes” she had endured.

The $1.89 million in damages awarded to the plaintiff includes $1.3 million in general damages, almost $88,600 in special damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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