Couple Convicted of Rape Sentenced

By Bill Trotter, Bangor Daily News, Maine

Sep. 28–ELLSWORTH — A man and a woman from Mount Desert Island who were convicted of raping women in Hancock County were sentenced Thursday to serve several years behind bars.

Justice William S. Brodrick sentenced Peter Mills, 50, of Southwest Harbor to 10 years in prison with none of the sentence suspended. Stephanie Stark, 45, of Bar Harbor was sentenced to seven years in prison, also with none of it suspended.

On additional charges, each also received consecutive multiyear sentences that were suspended entirely, Mills for seven years and Stark for five. Each will serve three years of probation upon release from prison but could go back behind bars for the duration of the suspended sentences if any probation conditions are violated.

The defense attorneys for Mills and Stark said they intend to appeal the convictions.

Mills and Stark were accused of sexually assaulting the women on two separate incidents in June 2005, during what District Attorney Michael Povich called a two — to three-day “spree.” Mills was convicted of raping three women and Stark two.

The three victims testified separately during the trial in June that after they met up with Mills and Stark to socialize and consume alcohol, they became woozy and disoriented. All three said they were drugged and then raped.

“I’m less trusting of people,” one of the victims told Brodrick in court Thursday. “I’m less sure of myself. I feel less independent.”

Two of the victims, women in their 20s who worked with Mills at a Southwest Harbor restaurant, did not attend the sentencing. These women claimed they had gone out together to a Bar Harbor restaurant with Mills and Stark on June 16, 2005. After dining, the four returned to Mills’ rented home, where the assaults took place later that night. Only one of these women claimed to have been assaulted by Stark.

The victim who spoke Thursday in court is a Surry woman in her 40s who said she was assaulted by Mills and Stark on June 18, 2005, after the pair came over to her home. She had testified that she had just met Mills earlier that day over the phone and had invited him to her house. Her phone number had been printed accidentally in a weekly newspaper advertisement for a bartending job that Mills was interested in. He had been fired from his bartending job in Southwest Harbor after the two other women accused him of drugging and assaulting them.

Stark did not address the court at the sentencing but Mills did. He told the judge that what he did was “reprehensible” and that he had started drinking heavily after he and his wife separated.

“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done,” he told the judge in a clear voice. “I’m embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated by my actions. The remorse I feel for my actions will never leave me.”

Several of Mills’ friends and relatives addressed the court, including his sister and a daughter from a previous relationship. All told the judge that Mills has no significant criminal background, that he is a hard worker, and that he has been generous and supportive to all of them over many years.

“I love you, Dad,” his grown daughter Danielle Stanley told him.

Mills’ attorney, Daniel Pileggi, said before the hearing that his client has been struggling emotionally the past couple of weeks. Mills’ estranged wife, Michelle Mills, committed suicide Sept. 12 in the Penobscot County Jail, where she was being held while waiting to go on trial for allegedly murdering Southwest Harbor resident Jacqueline Evans in January 2006.

Michelle Mills, who was hired by Evans to help take care of an ailing friend, was accused of bludgeoning Evans to death with a gargoyle statue after they began arguing about money.

Stark and Peter Mills have been held in jail since they were convicted, but jail officials allowed Mills to attend his estranged wife’s funeral in Bar Harbor on Tuesday.

“His outlook has changed considerably in the past couple of weeks,” Pileggi said before the sentencing about his client. “[Mills’ sentencing] pales by comparison.”

Several members of Stark’s family, including her two sisters and her parents, also addressed the court. Each said that Stark has been a strong, supportive presence in their lives and can do more good out of jail than by serving time behind bars.

“She’s given me many happy times,” her mother, Patricia Stark, told the judge, her voice tightening with emotion. “I can only hope the court will have mercy on Stephanie.”

Povich told Brodrick that despite the character testimonials, Mills and Stark need to be held responsible for the seriousness of their crimes.

“People, when it comes to sex, have dark sides that their friends and relatives might not be aware of,” the prosecutor said. “We should not forget we have three victims involved here.”

Brodrick spent little time announcing the sentences or commenting on the crimes. He said the lack of serious criminal conduct in the prior records of the defendants was a mitigating factor in the sentencing.

“You inflicted grievous harm on [the victims],” the judge told Mills and Stark. “I think there is reason to believe you will be productive citizens again in the future.”

Pileggi and Stark’s attorney, Stephen Smith of Bangor, said after the sentencing that each plans to appeal. The sentences were severe for the type of uncharacteristic behavior each defendant was briefly engaged in, they each said.

After the proceeding, Povich said he was “very pleased” with the sentences.

“I’ve never seen a case like this,” he said. “These are serial rapists.”

The prosecutor said the case is a clear indication that women should be careful when socializing in a private setting with people they don’t know that well.

“You can’t be trusting anymore,” Povich said. “‘Watch your back. Watch your drink.”


To see more of the Bangor Daily News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright (c) 2007, Bangor Daily News, Maine

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.