Residents, alleged victims, demand action from mayor, councilors
BIDDEFORD – Four people who allege they were abused by two former Biddeford police officers attended a city council meeting last night in support of one another and to request that the department’s chief and deputy chief be suspended.
The first person to be public about allegations was Matt Lauzon, a 2003 Biddeford High School graduate and Boston resident. He went to Biddeford Police Department in October to report alleged abuse by Dodd, but got frustrated at the lack of movement in the case, which was forwarded to the AG’s office. Lauzon first started posting on social media about the allegations in February.
South Portland resident Richard Alexander and Biddeford resident Jonathan Clark attended the meeting and have alleged that Stephen M. Dodd, a 25-year member of the force, abused them when they were children. Robert Kalex and Larry Ouellette also were in attendance. They allege that former captain Norman Gaudette, who still lives in the city, abused them when they were children.
“I am a 50 year old man and I don’t know what to do,” said Kalex, encouraging other victims to come forward.
You people,” he said to the council, “help us get some help – prevent damages to other future children.”
Kalex first told his story to the Courier in a story published April 9, “Allegations against second officer are similar,” (http://courier.mainelymediallc.com/news/2015-04-09/News/Allegations_made_against_officer_are_similar.html)
Many in the audience received messages from those watching the meeting at home or online that the sound cut off. A brief recess was taken after the third speaker in an effort to fix the sound. Mayor Alan Casavant said it was an issue with Time Warner and that the sound was still likely to be spotty. However, he said when the meeting was put online or if a resident obtained a disk of the meeting, the sound would be fixed. As of Wednesday morning, video of the meeting on the city’s website still contained sound issues.
Before the meeting, Mayor Alan Casavant read the following statement:
“Recently on social media and in news reports, allegations of sexual misconduct involving former members of the Biddeford Police Department have surfaced. The city of Biddeford takes these allegations very seriously and does not tolerate any form of sexual misconduct or harassment. All matters involving allegations of improper conduct have been referred to the office of the attorney general, consistent with state and departmental policies and procedures.
Because of the limitation and language included in Title 16 of the Maine Revised Statutes, neither the city, nor its representatives can comment on any past or current criminal investigation. In fact, the city cannot even confirm or deny whether such an investigation has occurred, or whether such an investigation is currently underway.
The city’s inability to comment on the current process should not be construed to suggest that the city is ignoring or minimizing the claims that have been made. The city’s objective is to do what is needed to ensure a thorough, unbiased investigation, while following standard and appropriate procedures and protocol.
The city and the Biddeford Police Department will continue to cooperate fully with the Attorney General’s Office, as it has done in the past. Should evidence eventually suggest that crimes have been committed, we desire full prosecution in order to seek justice for any victims, as well as to protect our citizens from future concerns. We encourage people with interest in the case to contact the Maine Attorney General.”
After the last speaker, the meeting adjourned quickly. Ward 5 city councilor Bob Mills voted against adjourning, adding that he thought more people wanted to speak. After the meeting, he said the stories, "saddened me deeply."
"I wish I could say more. I just can't. It would jeopardize the investigation."
Third generation Biddeford resident Bob Provencher said he raised two girls and two boys in Biddeford, and that accounts of the alleged abuse “irk” him.
“We’re trying to make the city look real nice. We got rid of MERC, we can no longer be called Trash Town U.S.A., but now we got this thing hanging over us. We could possibly be called Trash Town U.S.A. again . . . because of a corrupt police department,” he said.
Provencher called for Police Chief Roger Beaupre and Deputy Chief Joanne Fisk to be put on administrative leave, perhaps paid, to ensure a fair evaluation and investigation.
“There’s something wrong when a police department gets allegedly accused,” he said. “We teach our kids to respect the law, we try to respect the law. In this particular case, it’s alleged that two officers of the law abused that trust.”
Ward 7 resident Sue Grant, an occupational therapist with 35 years of experience, called the consequences of child abuse “horrific,” adding that many end up in prisons, foster care and rehab.
Grant said there are “direct and severe consequences” related to such trauma, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Their brains become “hyper responsive.” She said such people have difficulty interpreting non-verbal communication, engage in risky behavior and troubled personal relationships.
“Risky behavior is an attempt to slow down brain arousal,” she said.
Grant called the cases of alleged abuse, “ghastly.”
“I refuse to believe these alleged perpetrators couldn’t have been stopped,” she said. “One has to wonder if complacency exists in our police department and the AG’s office.”
Grant called child sexual abuse “the most heinous of crimes,” adding that she was “disgusted, embarrassed, ashamed, disillusioned” and more.
Grant noted that one of the accused officers, Dodd, had a foster son, Laurence Carey, who died in 2000 from what is believed to be complications of alcohol abuse.
She said anyone who was a mandated reporter – certain people who must report abuse, neglect or exploitation of a child – committed a crime themselves if they knew Carey was being abused and did nothing.
“If (the alleged abusers) are not prosecuted, shame on Biddeford and shame on the state of Maine,” she said.
Alexander, the South Portland resident who alleges he was abused by Dodd in the 1970s when Dodd was 20 years old and working as a reserve officer in Old Orchard Beach, said 13 years after initially reporting the abuse to the AG, he’s still trying to get justice.
“I was abused by one of your police officers,” he said. “Actually, I was raped.”
Alexander asked if anyone knew what was written on local police vehicles.
“Courage, honor, integrity.”
As far as he’s concerned, Biddeford represents none of that, Alexander said.
Alexander carried with him two sworn affidavits from the AG’s office.
“ told them there was a problem. It fell on deaf ears. Here I am, 13 years later, in front of you,” he said. “You knew you had a pedophile working in Biddeford. You knew there was more than one.”
“This guy needs to be put in jail,” Alexander said, referring to Dodd. “Can you help me do that?”
Mayor Casavant reminded Alexander that neither the council nor mayor are allowed to respond to public comment per city rules.
Alexander said he knows Dodd is “still out there.”
“There will be something we can do if we all pitch in together and do this the right way,” he said. “I’ve been carrying this around for a long time. I really feel you folks have to get together and talk about this. This is something not to take lightly.”
Mellisa Luedke, a 1999 Biddeford High School graduate, said she lives on Summer Street, what she called a “rough neighborhood.” Her 12-year-old autistic son attends Biddeford Middle School and Luedke said she fears for his safety.
“He begs me to let him walk home from school, but I can’t let him,” she said, crying. “When he dials 911 I don’t know what will happen.”
Luedke said the chief and deputy chief should be removed so more victims feel comfortable coming forward without being intimidated. Luedke said she doesn’t know any of the victims, except that she graduated with one of their older brothers.
“The victims need to get the peace that they deserve. Lord knows what (the accused officers) are still doing to children out there,” she said. “As an ex teacher, Mayor Casavant, I am beyond that you have not done anything about this. I voted for you because I thought you cared for children. You do not.”