2016-09-26 / Front Page

City of Biddeford, police chief file responses in sex assault cases

By ALAN BENNETT Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — The city of Biddeford and Biddeford Police Chief Roger Beaupre have filed a response in court denying allegations of negligent supervision in three separate sexual assault cases involving two former BPD officers.

In documents filed in U.S. District Court on Friday, the city and Beaupre formally denied allegations they acted negligently in three separate sexual assault cases involving Biddeford teens and former police officers Stephen Dodd and Norman Gaudette.

The responses refer to three lawsuits alleging Dodd of sexually assaulting Biddeford natives Matthew Lauzon and Bertrand Girard, and alleging Gaudette of assaulting Lawrence “Larry” Ouellette when the three plaintiffs were teenagers from the late 1970s until the early 2000s.

The municipal defendants’ answer states that Beaupre and the city did not act negligently in the cases, and that it took steps to decertify Dodd after becoming aware of claims of sexual abuse in the early 2000s.

In a lawsuit filed against Dodd in October 2015, Lauzon accused Dodd of sexually abusing him when he was 13 or 14 in 2001 while Dodd was serving on the Biddeford police force.

Lauzon also accused Beaupre and the city of negligent supervision, claiming they knew the assaults occurred and failed to protect him. The case was moved to federal court in February.

Lauzon is seeking compensatory damages against the defendants, and claims to have suffered psychological damage, humiliation and permanent impairment, and has lost wages as a result of his alleged abuse.

Girard filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the municipal defendants and Dodd, claiming Dodd sexually assaulted him for years beginning in the late 1970s.

Girard claims when he was 13 or 14 and in middle school, between 1977 and 1982, he was befriended by Dodd and agreed to move into Dodd’s Taylor Street home after the officer began looking after Girard’s troubled family.

Girard says Dodd repeatedly forced him to perform various sex acts and assaulted him while in uniform.

Girard is suing Dodd for sexual assault, stating he has suffered severe psychological damages including post-traumatic stress disorder, pain and suffering, permanent impairment and lost wages.

He is also suing the municipal defendants for what he claims was negligent supervision, stating Beaupre was chief at the time the alleged assaults occurred and failed to take action to protect Girard. He is seeking punitive damages.

The city and Beaupre filed a joint answer to Girard’s complaint on Friday in which they denied Girard’s allegations in light of several sexual assault complaints filed in the 1990s and early 2000s against BPD officers.

Defendants claim Beaupre became aware of a sexual assault complaint against another former officer, Norman Gaudette, who was accused of sexually assaulting Lawrence “Larry” Ouellette of Biddeford in the 1980s when Ouellette was 15 years old.

The city claims that Beaupre launched an investigation into that complaint but had no involvement, instead referring the case to the Maine Attorney General’s Office and placing Gaudette on administrative leave. Gaudette was not indicted in that case, and the city and Beaupre deny negligent supervision.

In March 2002, the defendants claimed that Beaure received an anonymous note making claims of sexual assault against Dodd in reference to another unknown case, which he immediately referred to the AG. Dodd was on medical leave at the time, and was kept on that leave pending investigation.

In October 2002, Beaupre was presented the investigative report and attempted to have Dodd decertified as a police officer through the Maine Criminal Justice Academy Board of Directors so that Dodd could not leave and work for another Maine police department. Dodd finally agreed to resign from BPD in July 2003.

Beaupre claims at the time, he had no knowledge of any allegations against Dodd in relation to Girard, and denies allegations of negligent supervision.

The city and Beaupre also responded to Lauzon’s claims, denying claims of negligent supervision following an investigation into an apparent sexual assault by an adult neighbor, Michael McKeown, in 2001.

Dodd formally responded to Girard’s complaint in District Court on Wednesday, also denying allegations of sexual assault made against him.

Motions to dismiss all three cases, citing the statute of limitations had run out in all three, were denied on Sept. 9 by District Judge D. Brock Hornby. Hornby said the plaintiffs may not have been aware of their alleged abuse until much later in life.

Girard’s attorney, Daniel Lilley of Daniel G. Lilley Law Offices, P.A., declined to comment on the city’s filings Sunday, saying they will be properly addressed in court.

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

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