BIDDEFORD – A former detective with the Biddeford Police Department is claiming the Maine Attorney General’s Office rigged an investigation of police Capt. Norman Gaudette so Gaudette would not be indicted on charges of sexual misconduct.
In an exclusive interview with the Courier on Friday, May 8, Terry Davis, who worked for the department from 1986 to 2003, outlined details of what he said was one of the most negligent investigations he ever witnessed. A statement by Davis was read the following day, May 9 at a public forum hosted by state Sen. David Dutremble (D-Alfred, Biddeford, Dayton, Lyman, Kennebunkport). Dutremble organized the forum for alleged victims who wanted to tell their stories of abuse by two former police officers.
Davis told the Courier he was blindsided in 1991 when investigators failed to call alleged victims to the stand at a grand jury indictment hearing at York County Superior Court, instead allowing Gaudette to defend himself to the jury without testimony from the accusers.
The investigation began in the Biddeford Police Department in 1990, said Davis, when he first took a report from teenager Larry Ouellette about alleged sex abuse by Gaudette. Ouellette, who is now 43, said at the time that his relationship with Gaudette occurred over a period of years, beginning when Ouellette was 15.
In 1990, a six-year statute of limitations was in effect for the sexual abuse of a minor under 16 by a perpetrator who was more than 10 years older than the victim. A six-year statute of limitations was also in effect for unlawful sexual contact in which the victim did not consent. Ouellette’s allegations on either charge would not have expired under the statutes of limitations at the time he reported them. The Legislature amended the statute of limitations in 1991, allowing prosecution at any time if the victim was under age 16 when incest, rape or gross sexual assault were committed, but it would only be applied to future crimes.
In the months that followed, Davis said numerous detectives became involved in an investigation that yielded nearly a dozen people who were potential victims of Gaudette. The investigation started internally, overseen by Biddeford Capt. Royal Marcoux, and ended with Michael Pulire, an investigator for the Attorney General’s Office, he said.
“We came up with numerous names. We interviewed people and ended up getting names,” Davis said. “Collectively, we came up with about a dozen names.”
Robert Poisson, who worked for the Biddeford Police Department from 1974 to 2004 primarily as a patrolman, worked as a detective from 1984 to 1989. Poisson said he took a report of an allegation against Gaudette in 1989, but does not believe that complaint was ever forwarded for inclusion in the attorney general’s investigation.
“I did what I was supposed to do – I forwarded it to the chief,” Poisson said. “I would suspect that all of the allegations are true.”
Davis said even though Gaudette was his immediate supervisor, the captain of detectives, he investigated the complaints as seriously as any others.
“We did what we were supposed to do,” Davis said. “I knew it was going to be a problem, but I also knew, and believed, that I took an oath and it didn’t matter (that the complaints were against his supervisor). For me not to take the report and take it up the proper chain of command, I wouldn’t have done what police are sworn to do.”
Davis said he and another detective, Richard D. Gagne, met numerous times with Detective Pulire of the Attorney General’s Office, which took over the investigation. Gagne worked for the Biddeford Police Department from 1970 to 2010. Several attempts by the Courier to reach Gagne were unsuccessful.
“There were times when (the Attorney General’s Office) was seeking information from myself and Gagne,” Davis said. “Little things such as, ‘Do you know this person? How can I find this person?’ I wouldn’t say we were directly involved, but (Pulire) did come down looking for assistance.”
In the end, after culling through nearly a dozen alleged victims, Davis said he believes a total of eight to 10 names were generated as witnesses who could testify about alleged abuse by Gaudette.
According to published reports, Gaudette was suspended from duty sometime in 1990, after an officer complained to Chief Roger Beaupre about the allegations. Davis said he was the officer who forwarded the allegations up the chain of command. Gaudette returned to work in May 1991.
In early 1991, Davis said he and Gagne were notified by then-Assistant Attorney General Eric Wright to appear at a grand jury indictment hearing at York County Superior Court. A clerk at the courthouse earlier this year said records of grand jury hearings that do not result in an indictment are not released to the public.
In a May 15, 1991 article in the Journal Tribune, Gaudette’s lawyer said he had been cleared of sexual misconduct charges and would return to his job. According to the article, Gaudette’s reinstatement came a month after the police union representing him met with city officials and an arbitrator in an attempt to return Gaudette to duty – meaning the indictment hearing likely occurred in April or May of that year. Davis said Gaudette returned to work shortly after the hearing.
Davis said he was flabbergasted when he noticed at the courthouse that none of the alleged victims were present.
“I’m the only one from the state that testified,” Davis said. “I thought it was weird that I didn’t see any victims at the courthouse.”
Davis said he and Gagne met with Wright for a briefing about the case.
“We were going over things that (Wright) was going to bring up so we would be prepared,” Davis said. “I was told we would talk about the typical stuff, go over the essential stuff.”
Davis said Wright told him in the briefing that he would ask him questions on the stand about when Ouellette first reported abuse and what he reported.
When Davis took the stand however, a different sequence of inquiries were rolled out.
“He didn’t ask me anything about any of that, nor did he intend to,” Davis said. “I was totally blindsided. That was about the most unethical and bastardly thing a lawyer could do, never mind somebody who represented the state and its citizens. (Wright) should be disbarred. I felt it that day, and I feel it 20 years later … He acted as co-counsel to Capt. Gaudette.”
“After being sworn in, I was ready to answer the questions we had gone over with Eric Wright, but none of those questions came up. He immediately went off on this ranting trying to discredit me. ‘Isn’t it true your father committed suicide over alleged sexual misconduct himself?’ That was never discussed in the briefing.
“And then he started on, ‘And because of that, Capt. Gaudette didn’t want you to work on sex abuse cases.’ He kept going on and on trying to make me look like a complete idiot or unskilled detective. Obviously I was blindsided. I couldn’t even believe what was taking place. I thought, ‘What the hell is going on?’”
Davis said his father hung himself after an incident with a foster daughter occurred. His father didn’t like the way the child talked to Davis’ mother, Davis recalled, and his father may have struck her in an inappropriate manner.
“I don’t know the whole scenario,” Davis said of his father’s suicide. “Nobody will ever know. My father being the type of guy he was, he felt like he would never be looked at the same.”
However, Davis said, Gaudette never raised questions of bias in all the previous years when he had assigned Davis to work on sex abuse cases. And after Gaudette was reinstated, added Davis, he0 continued to allow Davis to work on those cases.
“How ironic – I was still working all those cases that Eric Wright and Norman Gaudette said I couldn’t work without being biased,” Davis said. “If (Gaudette) believed that, why was it that he kept me on those cases. He only believed it in that one case, against him.
Davis said after Wright was finished humiliating him in front of the jurors, he was asked to leave the stand.
“I go out into the hallway, and I remember Gagne’s face. I told him, ‘You’re not going to believe what just took place.’ … then all of a sudden appears (attorney) Gene Libby walking with Gaudette and his wife,” Davis said, “and they walked right into the jury room and closed the door.
“My mind was so reeling … It was one big staged play.”
Davis said although they were told Gagne would also testify on behalf of the state, Gagne was never called to take the stand.
“I guess I was the fall guy. They were going to make it all look like my fault or something,” Davis said. “Obviously it was all thrown under the rug. It was obviously worked out with Gene Libby and the attorney general.”
Libby was the district attorney for York County from 1981 to 1985 and is currently representing Stephen Dodd, another former Biddeford police officer currently facing allegations of sex abuse. Libby has not responded to repeated requests for comment about either Dodd or Gaudette.
Jim Burke, a clinical professor of law at the University of Maine School of Law, said the purpose of an indictment hearing is to aid the prosecution. Allowing an accused person to speak at their own indictment hearing is rare because it doesn’t usually benefit the prosecutor.
“The only thing that goes on (at an indictment hearing) is what the prosecutor wants to go on,” Burke said. “There’s a saying, ‘a good prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich’ … What you’re describing is something that is not at all common. I don’t know that the only witness should ever be (the potential defendant).”
Burke said a grand jury’s indictment hearing may often be conducted without alleged victims as witnesses, relying on a police officer’s report of the accusations. Burke said if a prosecutor called the potential defendant to the stand but not the alleged victims, it would raise serious questions about whether the prosecutor was sincerely trying to get an indictment.
Wright, who now works as a staff attorney for the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection under the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, told the Courier, “There are many, many cases, in fact most cases, in which the named victims are not called to testify in a grand jury hearing. Many cases are presented on the trust of the reporting officer … It’s not uncommon at all. It’s more the rule than the exception that victims are not called upon to testify at a grand jury … I would make a judgment based on the specifics of a particular case, whether it’s important to hear directly from the victim, or whether the jury can be informed without calling them.”
Wright worked for the Attorney General’s Office from 1984 to 1997.
When asked why Gaudette was called to testify at his own indictment hearing, Wright said, “After 20 years, I simply don’t have any recollection.”
Wright said he remembers a case involving claims of sex abuse against Gaudette, and recognized the names of Ouellette and Robert Kalex as possibly being a part of that case, but has little memory of the details. The Courier interviewed Kalex in April of this year (see “Allegations made against officer are similar” in the April 9 issue). Kalex alleges that Gaudette sexually abused him in the 1980s, starting when Kalex was only 15.
Ouellette said on the morning of the indictment hearing, he was called by York County District Attorney Michael Cantara, and told he did not need to appear in court.
“I thought, OK, well, they just don’t need me. I thought Norman was still going to be convicted,” Ouellette said.
Davis said if the state had called Ouellette to the stand, the outcome of the hearing would have likely resulted in an indictment.
“(Ouellette) was, in my opinion, an intelligent young man – very credible in my opinion and I believe he would have made a great witness if he ever had the chance to testify,” Davis said. “He was never subpoenaed – one of the things that upset me was the fact that none of the alleged victims were subpoenaed.”
Earlier this year, Ouellette filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain documents from his case, but was told in a March 27 email sent by Assistant Attorney General Phyllis Gardiner that the records had been destroyed.
“The records that we did have were forwarded to state archives some years ago, and we learned today upon checking that these particular records have been destroyed in the normal course of business per the retention schedule in place,” Gardiner wrote.
Wright said when he worked for the Attorney General’s Office all written reports were put into the archives.
“They were not (destroyed) to my knowledge,” Wright said.
According to documents sent by the Attorney General’s Office to the Courier, schedules for the destruction of records have been approved at various times for different categories of records.
A policy was approved in 2000 to allow destruction of records related to civil rights hate crimes, including police reports, victim and suspect interviews and formal actions, after retaining them for a certain period – the records remain with the agency for one year, and are then housed in a records center for six years before ultimately being destroyed. In 2010, a schedule was approved for criminal division records other than homicide and death files – one year with the agency and 10 years at the records center before being destroyed.
The only category of records that are archived, without being eventually destroyed after a scheduled duration, are legislative records – correspondence from legislators requesting information or opinions on any laws submitted to the Legislature.
Ouellette has filed a complaint to the attorney general about the destruction of his files.
At the police station after the hearing, Davis said Wright showed up at his office to discuss the case and a verbal altercation took place.
“I was about to blow my stack,” Davis said. “For him to walk in to a place that I considered a place of honor – I felt that he didn’t even deserve to be in that office.”
“It got heated. I shared with him my feelings that he should leave the office immediately,” Davis said. “He continuously apologized for what he had just done. I told him somewhere along the lines that I didn’t much care for his (bull) apology, the damage was done, and at some point he did leave.”
Davis said Wright implored him, Gagne and Pulire to meet somewhere outside of the police station, and the group eventually met in the lounge area of Happy Dragon Chinese Restaurant at 105 Main St.
“We’re all sitting there, and after small talk, Eric Wright said he admits that he purposely threw the case under the bus to the grand jury,” Davis said. “He continuously apologized.
Davis said Wright alluded that, “he didn’t want to, but he got it from higher up.”
James Tierney, a Democrat, was Maine’s attorney general from Jan. 6, 1981 to Jan. 6, 1991. Michael Carpenter, also a Democrat, became attorney general on Jan. 7, 1991. The attorney general is elected by the Legislature.
“Eric Wright was the assistant attorney general at the time,” Davis said. “I would have a hard time believing that the situation wasn’t at least discussed with the attorney general. If it wasn’t, Eric Wright really wielded power. He was the assistant attorney general that was supposed to present the state’s case. You don’t have the victims (testify), but you allow the guy who’s being accused to be there with his lawyer and wife? They couldn’t have been more flagrant that they purposely didn’t want an indictment to take place.”
Attorney General Janet Mills has not responded to multiple inquiries by the Courier as to how her office would address allegations of investigative negligence or abuse performed by the office of previous attorneys general.
When Gaudette was reinstated and returned to work, Davis said he immediately threatened him.
“He put his finger to my nose and in a nasty tone told me I had cost him $17,000 in lawyer’s fees and I was going to regret all the aggravation I had put him through,” Davis said. “Then he told me to pack the office up, I was moving into the detective squad room.”
At the May 9 forum, Matt Lauzon, who has publicly alleged abuse by Dodd, read a statement by Davis. The Courier was the first to report the allegation (see “Man recalls abuse by officer” in the March 5 issue). In the statement, Davis said he believes either Gagne or Pulire may be in possession of a tape recording of Wright admitting during the conversation at the Happy Dragon Restaurant that the case was purposely thrown under the bus.
In recent months, Lauzon and his supporters have questioned why the attorney general assigned Pulire as the investigator, when he had previously investigated Dodd in 2002 to 2003, and failed to indict him. Dodd surrendered his certificate of eligibility to work as a law enforcement or correction officer in Maine, effective July 18, 2003, upon retirement.
Steve Rowe, a Democrat, was attorney general from 2001 to 2009 and during the investigation of Dodd.
Davis said Pulire is the primary investigator for southern Maine and would never do anything to jeopardize a case.
“I think (Pulire) did a great job investigating the case, it’s just too bad it was all thrown under the bus,” Davis said. “I think he did a thorough and complete investigation. I have no problem with his credibility whatsoever … He has always been professional.”
Davis, who is retired and now lives in Florida, said he has nothing to gain by telling his story, except to help Ouellette find justice.
“Why do I want to reveal what happened 25 years ago? So whoever is running the show up there does a little better job,” he said. “They have to prove their credibility in my opinion and they certainly didn’t do it then.
”I promised Larry Ouellette 20-some-odd years ago that I believed him then, and I believe him now, and it pissed me off that he never got to tell his story.”
Davis said even though the events took place such a long time ago, he remembers it as clearly as if it were yesterday.
“It’s like the day a parent died. Some of us just don’t forget certain things that are traumatic in nature. I remember it clearly,” Davis said. “(The Twin Towers) is a good example: everyone does remember and will for the rest of their life.
“The bottom line is, if Detective Gagne ever comes forward and verifies this, the truth will come out. Don’t go with blind faith with the Attorney General’s Office.”