2016-04-07 / Front Page

Third man comes forward with suit

Bertrand Girard recounts alleged abuse in August Courier interview
By Ben Meiklejohn
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD – A third man has filed a lawsuit against the city of Biddeford and Police Chief Roger Beaupre over allegations of sexual abuse by a former police officer.

Attorney Daniel Lilley, of Portland, filed a complaint Feb. 23 in York County Superior Court on behalf of Bertrand Girard of Hollis against the city, Beaupre and former Sgt. Stephen Dodd.

City Solicitor Keith Jacques, representing the city, and Portland attorney Timothy Bryant, representing Beaupre, filed on March 11 to have the suit transferred to the U. S. District Court of Maine.

The city has also transferred two other cases involving allegations of sexual abuse, Matthew Lauzon vs. Stephen Dodd, et. al. and Lawrence Ouellette vs. Norman Gaudette, et. al, to the federal court. The city has made a motion to have all three cases dismissed. As of the Courier’s deadline, a hearing on the motions had not yet been scheduled.

Last August, the Courier interviewed Girard about his allegations against Dodd, but withheld the interview from publication pending the filing of his lawsuit.

Girard said in that interview that he was upset with Attorney General Janet Mills for not indicting Dodd after he was investigated last year over allegations of sexual abuse. Girard said he spoke to investigator Michael Pulire from the Attorney General’s Office in the early 2000s about the alleged sexual abuse by Dodd. Dodd was investigated by the Attorney General’s Office in 2002 but never charged. Last year, amid allegations made by Lauzon, Dodd was investigated again. Mills announced in August that no action would be taken due to lack of sufficient evidence. Girard said he was not interviewed by the attorney general’s investigators last year, but he and two other family members gave recorded testimony to Pulire during the 2002 investigation, all three alleging to have been abused by Dodd.

According to the complaint, Girard claims he was first abused by Dodd between 1977 and 1978, when he was 13 to 14 years old. Girard said he first met Dodd when Dodd brought home one of his brothers who had gotten into trouble.

“My mother was sick, my father was a traveling truck driver and he saw that,” Girard told the Courier, consistent with statements included in his legal complaint. “Now that I look back on it, he preyed on (me). I was only 12 or 13 … After that, he just started coming around like he was a friend. He had a sports Camaro, brand new.

“He used to pick me and my brothers up and take us riding in his new car and there was always a case of beer in the back seat.”

Girard said in time, Dodd started supplying him and his brothers with drugs and paraphernalia that he had confiscated, including marijuana, pipes and cocaine.

“I looked up to him like a big brother or father figure,” he said.

With a troubled home life, a sick mother and a father who was always away, Girard said he eventually found trouble, breaking into stores and houses to feed his drug addictions and wandering the streets homeless. Girard said he ended up in the Maine Youth Center, where Dodd would visit him.

Girard told the Courier it wasn’t long before Dodd invited him to take shelter in his house where he was living on Taylor Street.

Girard alleged that Dodd took advantage of his hard life.

“I woke up and he was giving me oral sex,” Girard said. “I almost thought it was alright. I was homeless.”

Girard said he was confused and didn’t know how to act because Dodd had been kind to him, giving him shelter, drugs and clothes.

“I felt like I had to do what I had to do because there was a store on Alfred Street, Feinberg’s, and he would go over there and give them money for me to get clothes,” Girard said.

In the complaint, Lilley states that on multiple occasions between 1977 and 1982, Dodd performed sexual acts on Girard while he was sleeping and did so while dressed in full police uniform.

“On more than one occasion, Girard awoke while Officer Dodd was performing oral sex in full uniform and Officer Dodd would point to his mouth and tell Girard to keep quiet and point to his police radio,” Lilley stated in the complaint.

“He would come home and it was like he thought he owned us. He always said I wouldn’t amount to nothing,” Girard alleged. “He molested me while he was wearing the badge. I always fought. He did that to me a couple of times in uniform.”

Girard told the Courier that others had also allegedly woken up to abuse in progress by Dodd. When the Courier first interviewed Girard, he told of an incident where a friend slept over at Dodd’s one night, and when he woke up, his friend was gone. Girard went to his friend’s house to find out why he left.

“He told me that Steve was pulling his pants down and trying to molest him,” said Girard. “He woke up and just took off.”

The Courier immediately contacted the friend, who corroborated the allegation but did not want to be named in an article.

The recently filed complaint states that Girard “suffered damages, including but not limited to severe psychological damages, post-traumatic stress disorder, pain, suffering, humiliation, embarrassment, lost wages and personal impairment.”

Girard, who graduated from Biddeford High School, told the Courier that after the alleged incident corroborated by the friend, the friend told everyone that Girard was in a homosexual relationship with Dodd, and Girard began to get teased.

“When Steve did this to my friend, I can’t say his name, this kid was telling everyone that I was gay with Steve,” Girard said. “My other so-called friends would drive by in their car and they would yell out at me, calling me a f----t and a queer. So one night I was at the house on Taylor Street and it was really wearing on me. I took one of his guns out and was going to take my life.”

Instead of pulling the trigger, Girard called the police station for help. “I wanted to tell them what he was doing to me and guess who showed up? Steve. He showed up, calmed me down. They wouldn’t do nothing,” Girard said. “I wanted help, I was in a crisis, I was ready to go poof.

“I went down there (to the police station) a couple of times, they always blew me off, always too busy. They knew what was going on and they just looked the other way.”

In the complaint against the city, Lilley states, “Upon information and belief, Officer Dodd had been engaged in so many sexual assaults against minors in Biddeford that Chief Beaupre knew and/or should have known that Officer Dodd was a pedophile, was dangerous to young men and should not be a BPD police officer … Chief Beaupre’s failure to investigate complaints against Officer Dodd and/or supervise Officer Dodd’s misconduct constituted supervisory encouragement, condonation or acquiescence, amounting to deliberate indifference.”

City Manager James Bennett said even though Beaupre is now named as a defendant in three lawsuits, it doesn’t constitute a reason for him to be placed on paid administrative leave.

“I don’t think the filing of the lawsuits against the city or filing a lawsuit necessitates anyone going on paid administrative leave,” Bennett said. “Almost every time there’s an officer shooting or officer involved in a shooting, that officer will be named in a lawsuit, long after the attorney general has gone in and done an investigation and cleared them of wrongdoing – and those people aren’t put on administrative leave.”

Bennett said when he was town manager in Old Orchard Beach from 1990 to 1997, the town was given notice of lawsuits against police officers “a couple dozen” times, and none of them amounted to judgments against officers.

“If the standard was to put them on leave every time someone files a lawsuit, we wouldn’t have had much of a police department left,” Bennett said. “The filing of a lawsuit does not change any facts or information that the city would have or has that it would use to make any judgments. There would have to be something that would provide different information before the city would do something different.”

Girard’s brother, Norman Girard, told the Courier he suspected Dodd was doing something to his brother.

“I knew he was doing some things to him but wasn’t aware what he was doing,” Norman Girard said. “He would come over to my house and take my brother Bert and (another family member).”

Norman Girard alleged that when he was 17 or 18, he experienced a similar incident to what was allegedly experienced by his brother as well as the friend who corroborated his own allegation with the Courier. Norman Girard said he spent the night at Dodd’s house during a rainstorm and woke up to Dodd performing a sexual act on him, and immediately left.

Norman Girard also declared his allegation publicly at a city council meeting in May last year.

“People would say this would happen,” Norman Girard said. “A lot of people would talk about it … It was known around town that Dodd did this.”

Norman Girard said one of the men who was “known around town” to be in a relationship with Dodd was Larry Carey, Dodd’s foster son.

Carey died at age 30 in 2000, reportedly of liver failure. A friend of Carey’s, who does not want to be named, alleged to the Courier that Dodd regularly abused Carey. The friend also alleged to the Courier that he too, once woke up to Dodd attempting to perform a sexual act on him, after which he physically assaulted Dodd.

The details of the account by Carey’s friend have never been published by the Courier to respect his privacy, but Bert Girard, without knowing that Carey’s friend had been interviewed, described the same assessment of Dodd’s relationship with Carey.

“There was a kid, Larry Carey, Steve ended up adopting him. He did all the same stuff to him that he did to me,” Bert Girard alleged. “Larry had a girlfriend but Steve wouldn’t allow that to happen. When Larry always tried to go to his girlfriend’s, Steve always knew where to find them. He watched Larry drink himself to death. It’s the same thing he did to me. Larry’s mother lived on Elm Street. Steve used to go over there for complaints because of his mother drinking, a similar situation to how he met me. I watched Larry drink himself to death and Steve never really tried to help him. It just turns my stomach … That guy was like my brother. I saw him drink himself to death. It was so bad, he was drinking two or three bottles of wine a day at the end.”

Steve Martin, a former police officer who worked for the department from 1979 to 2006, said Dodd always had various teenage males living with him or staying over at his house. Martin is seeking the Republican nomination in the June 14 primary election for Senate District 32, which includes Biddeford.

In a previous article (see “Details Emerge” in the April 30, 2015 issue), another former police officer, Lloyd Gaudette, reported to the Courier that the police had been called to Dodd’s residence in the 1980s for an incident where Carey had acted out in anger and stabbed Dodd’s waterbed repeatedly with a knife. Martin said he believed it was actually Bert Girard who had stabbed the waterbed.

“That was me that stabbed the waterbed,” Bert Girard told the Courier.

“(Dodd) came home and I had a girl in the bed. He came home and flipped right out. I ended up stabbing the bed.”

“It was one of those things we talked about at shift change,” Martin said. “The whole department knew about it, knew something was going on that was kind of strange. Why would someone slash a waterbed to pieces? There are a lot of motives.”

Two other former police officers have confirmed to the Courier that they have seen a statement by Carey submitted to the police department reporting abuse by Dodd.

Robert Kalex, who has alleged that another former Biddeford police officer abused him years ago, said he went to high school with Bert Girard and was warned by him to stay away from that officer. Kalex said he, Bert Girard, Kevin Gobeil and other alleged victims, who were all the same age, commiserated together on abuse they allegedly experienced by police officers and how similar their experiences were. Kalex said they lived on the same street together.

“(The police) were protecting the city of Biddeford by befriending us,” Kalex said. “They would give us drugs that they would get by busting drug dealers.”

Kalex said almost all the alleged victims he knows developed addictions because of their alleged abuse and ended up with criminal histories. This resulted in any claims of abuse by them being discredited or disregarded by police, he added. Bert Girard, who is the father of Kalex’s nephew, said Dodd enabled him into a life of drugs and crime and created a situation where, as a young teenager, he felt trapped and dependent on Dodd for protection. But when he sought help to escape Dodd’s hold, the police ignored him, he said.

“One of my good friends told me, ‘You beat the odds, I tip my hat off to you,’” Bert Girard said.

Martin said after he retired, he ran into Bert Girard five years ago at Dunkin’ Donuts and Girard broke down in front of him. Martin said Girard was talking with him about Dodd and was leading up to telling him something.

“He got all worked up and broke into tears and got choked up, saying that there was something Dodd had done that he regretted being silent on, and then didn’t say anymore,” Martin said.

Bert Girard said Dodd eventually had his own house built in 1984 at 11 Dearborn Ave., where he moved to from Taylor Street. A contractor, Bob Knox, who worked for Maine Linoleum, said that when he went to the house to install tiles, he remembers discussing with coworkers how odd it was that the windows were small and installed near the top of the ceiling.

“I remember going into that house to install floors, and just something about it didn’t feel right,” Knox said. “It’s just oddball that those windows were like that. I’ve installed floors for 30 years and never saw a house before, or after, like that. He was a cop and everything and was maybe worried about getting shot. It was a place to hide what was going on.”

Knox said 1-by-4-foot split windows were installed in the house. “You can’t really see out of them,” he said. “I’m 6-foot-4. They were 6 inches down from the ceiling.”

Bert Girard said the house was dark and the windows were high enough so that nobody could have seen what was going on inside its walls. The disconnect between the investigations of Dodd in 2002 and 2015, said Bert Girard, indicates that the Attorney General’s Office doesn’t have sufficient evidence “because it doesn’t want the evidence.” Girard said he told Pulire everything about what Dodd had allegedly done to him, and then Dodd simply retired in 2003 and surrendered his certification to be a law enforcement officer. Last year, however, Girard said all was quiet with the attorney general’s investigation.

“I never heard from anyone,” he said. “No attorney general called. None of those guys tried calling me to see if anything ever happened … What, are we all lying? Are we all lying and making this up? And the attorney general’s going to say there’s insufficient evidence? It’s time to come in and do what they’re not going to do.”

Richard Alexander of South Portland said he reported to Pulire during the 2002 investigation that he was allegedly abused by Dodd in the 1970s but was not interviewed during last year’s investigation. Alexander said he did not know of the reports by Bert and Norman Girard. Alexander’s brother, Jon Alexander, of South Portland, and another man, Jonathan Clark, of Biddeford, have also alleged publicly in the past year to have been previously abused by Dodd. Only Lauzon and Bert Girard have filed civil complaints. Martin said in a previous interview there is a difference in the threshold of evidence that is required to convict in a civil suit versus criminal.

“A civil suit is a preponderance of evidence, but a criminal suit is proof beyond reasonable doubt,” Martin said.

Since Bert Girard broke his ties with Dodd many years ago, Girard said he has kicked drug and alcohol addictions and is now married with a family and owns a successful business laying concrete driveways. However, he said he continues to feel haunted by Dodd. The first time Dodd was being investigated, Bert Girard said Dodd pulled him over to intimidate him.

“He thought he owned the town,” said Bert Girard. “When Pulire came to town, Steve knew he was being investigated. He pulled me over in the car, he looks at me and tells me, ‘You got something you want to tell me?’ trying to throw his weight around … He’s done that so many times, pulled me over for no reason.”

Bert Girard said that three or four years ago, while he was stopped at a gas station, he caught Dodd sitting across the street in a maroon Suburban, watching him.

“It frightened me,” he said.

When he saw a photo of Dodd in the Courier earlier this year, Girard said he became frightened and relapsed.

“When all this came up again, I wanted to push it all back down, but all this stuff was put back into light,” he said. “I got family and friends and relatives that live in Biddeford, good aunts and uncles that are good people. For my name to be out there and this and that, I wanted to run and push it all down inside me. I ended up going to church and confessions and told the priest about the police scandal.

“When that came up on the TV screen (that the attorney general was not pressing charges against Dodd), that was it – God’s plan kicked in – you need to get down there and tell your story. You don’t need to carry this anymore. I’ve carried it for 30 years. I have to let it go. I’ve been carrying this a long time.”

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