2015-04-17 / Community

AG looks at cases that span decades

By Ben Meiklejohn
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD – Amidst recent allegations of child sex abuse by two former police officers, several men who allege they were abused are questioning whether the Attorney General’s Office was negligent in prosecuting the officers after earlier investigations.

Richard Alexander of South Portland said he interviewed in 2002 with Michael Pulire, an investigator from the Attorney General’s Office, that he was abused by thenofficer Stephen Dodd. Alexander alleges that the abuse began in the mid-1970s when Alexander was 10 years old and the abuse lasted for five years. Alexander said Pulire told him back in 2002 that Pulire was interviewing other people who may have also been abused by Dodd.

In February, Matt Lauzon, a Boston man who grew up in Biddeford, alleged on Facebook that he had been molested by Dodd as a child and had filed a complaint with the Biddeford Police Department, which was forwarded to Maine Attorney General Janet Mills. Pulire is also the investigator on Lauzon’s case.

After reading an article about Lauzon’s story in the Sentry several weeks ago, Alexander said he called Pulire to ask what happened with the investigation (the Sentry covers news in South Portland and Cape Elizabeth, and is owned by Mainely Media LLC, which also owns the Courier). Alexander said Pulire told him the investigation was “still open.”

When Alexander asked Pulire why it was taking so long to complete the investigation – which is still open 13 years after his initial interview – Alexander said Pulire told him, “Well, you know, Mr. Alexander, it’s an ongoing investigation.”

Dodd worked as a Biddeford policeman from 1978 until July 18, 2003. His last day on duty was Dec. 19, 2002, and he went on leave the day after. Dodd was suspended in November 2002 pending an attorney general’s investigation.

Dodd notified the Maine Criminal Justice Academy on June 25, 2003 that he would surrender his certificate of eligibility to work as a law enforcement or correction officer in Maine, effective July 18, 2003, upon his retirement.

Brian MacMaster, who was chairman of the academy, accepted Dodd’s surrender on July 8 that year. MacMaster was also director of investigations for the Maine Attorney General, responsible for overseeing the 2002 investigation of Dodd. MacMaster has been the director of investigations since 1984.

Biddeford resident Jonathan Clark, another man who alleges that Dodd abused him as a boy, said he too, was interviewed by Pulire in 2002, but the interview was one of the most embarrassing times of his life.

Clark said Pulire’s tactics were intimidating and he felt deterred from telling the whole story about the abuse; Clark said Pulire told him he would go to jail if he lied.

In a previous interview, Julia Davidson, a sexual assault response team program manager for Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine, said when a victim is disclosing abuse, approaching the person from a perspective of belief and support is an important part of getting them to reveal accurate information.

Davidson said most victims who are interacting with police or a district attorney are assigned a victim witness advocate.

“These advocates help explain the process to the victim, they are the point people to call victims when they have to show up for trial (or) testimony, and they’re the folks that call victims when their perpetrator is being released from jail,” Davidson said. “They’re generally only assigned if and when a police case is being taken seriously, if a perp is indicted, or if the victim knows how to ask for that advocate and asks for it.”

Alexander, Clark and Lauzon all said they don’t recall being offered a victim witness advocate when being interviewed by investigators with the Attorney General’s Office.

Davidson said system-based advocates – employed by large police departments, district attorneys, the U.S. Attorney, or the Department of Corrections – are required to report information to their departments. Communitybased advocates – those who work for organizations such as Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine and Family Crisis Services – may keep information confidential, she added.

“We don’t answer to anyone besides our bosses,” Davidson said. “Whereas any information a victim tells an advocate might have to be reported to the DA, no information that is explained to a community-based advocate has to go anywhere unless the victim wishes. This is helpful when folks are on the fence about filing a report and want to speak with someone impartial.”

Davidson said some police departments are better than others about referring victims to community-based advocates, citing Saco and South Portland as departments that frequently make referrals.

“Many law enforcement officers don’t like community advocates because we don’t tell the victim what to do, and we keep their information confidential and won’t share it with law enforcement unless the victims gives permission,” Davidson said. “All victims of sexual violence have the right to work with a community-based advocate, (but) not all are pointed in the right direction or know how to find us.”

The Attorney General’s Office did not respond by the Courier’s deadline about whether the office has a victim witness advocate or refers victims to advocates.

Larry Ouellette, a local man who alleges he was abused at age 15 by former police captain Norman Gaudette, said he gave investigators with the attorney general’s office information about the abuse in 1989. Ouellette said he had anxiety attacks because of the investigator’s insensitivity to the matter.

Another man who grew up in Biddeford, Robert Kalex, also alleges to have been abused by Gaudette at age 15. Kalex said he spoke to attorney general investigators, but never felt they took him seriously.

“Nothing ever happened,” Kalex said. “They had the knowledge, but it was shoved under the rug.”

The Attorney General’s Office would not confirm or deny whether Dodd and/ or Gaudette were or are subjects of an investigation, citing confidentiality statutes.

Lauzon, who initially submitted his complaint against Dodd to the Maine State Police in October, wrote on Facebook that he never received a response from the Maine State Police, but was instead contacted by a Biddeford detective.

“I felt very confused about who to reach out to, given that it involved a former Biddeford police officer, so I tried hard to reach someone outside their office,” wrote Lauzon. “Frankly, in retrospect, I’m not sure why they didn’t send me directly to the attorney general’s investigator given the nature of what I was reporting.”

As others have come forward alleging abuse by former Biddeford policemen, and claiming to have already cooperated with the attorney general more than 10 or 20 years ago, Lauzon has gotten increasingly frustrated with the absence of an indictment or arrest.

Lauzon has called for the city council to suspend Police Chief Roger Beaupre and Deputy Chief JoAnne Fisk, to allow for a “fair and independent” investigation to occur.

City Manager John Bubier said when it comes to serious allegations against a Biddeford police officer, the police department shouldn’t be conducting an investigation at all.

“The situation was appropriately turned over to the attorney general as an independent agency,” Bubier said. “Clearly, (the department) would want to have distance. I would imagine that if there was any doubt as to the ability of the department to fairly and objectively investigate something, then it should get forwarded to an outside agency to be reviewed.”

Robert Schwartz, executive director of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, said if allegations had been forwarded to an outside agency, then whether a police chief is suspended has little impact on how independently an investigation is conducted.

“That’s why the department doesn’t investigate themselves … because they don’t want anyone to accuse them of things,” Schwartz said. “Someone’s got to run the police department. As long as they cooperate, which I expect they would, I don’t see (suspension) as a necessity to the investigation.”

In Maine, law enforcement officials are not allowed to discuss investigations, and cannot confirm whether an investigation is taking place. Schwarz said the “stringent requirements” can put police officials in a difficult situation when the public is demanding answers.

“They can’t give out information, and obviously that puts a suspicion on them,” Schwartz said.

Bubier said Beaupre’s lack of comment about past or present investigations of Dodd or Gaudette shouldn’t be construed as an attempt to hide information.

“People ask, ‘Why are there gaps of information?’” Bubier said, “but they’re not trying to avoid a comment, they just can’t talk about it.”

Beaupre and Fisk declined to talk about the investigative process in general. Fisk said she didn’t want to talk because comments she makes could be misconstrued as related to the recent allegations.

Lauzon occasionally posts on his Facebook that he doesn’t understand why Dodd has not been arrested yet. Lauzon’s attorney, Walter McKee, recently announced that his firm is conducting an independent investigation into the alleged abuse conducted by Biddeford police officers.

“What is becoming apparent though from recent news stories and based on our own preliminary investigation is that these were not isolated incidents and they occurred over the course of many years and we want to find out how it was all happening without any action being taken to keep Dodd and any others from continually abusing boys for so many years,” McKee wrote in a press release.

The Courier made several inquiries to the attorney general’s office last week, including:

• If the evidence necessary for an indictment alleging child abuse was different today than it was 10 or 15 years ago.

• If an officer could negotiate for an investigation to be discontinued as a condition of surrendering their certificate of eligibility to work as a law enforcement officer.

• What agency would investigate complaints that the attorney general failed to act upon substantial evidence.

Timothy Feeley, special assistant to the attorney general, responded, “We cannot answer your questions in general terms and we cannot respond to hypotheticals. Sufficiency of the evidence for a prosecution depends on the facts of each case as determined by the investigating agency, the prosecuting office and, sometimes, a grand jury. ”

David Lourie, an attorney whose practice is located in Portland, said complaints against the Maine Attorney General would likely be filed with the U.S. attorney.

“A federal civil rights complaint, if it showed a pattern, would interest the U.S. Attorney,” Lourie said. “The conventional way is to complain to the U.S. attorney in the Department of Justice. You would file a complaint that the state of Maine has a habit of ignoring complaints of child sex abuse.”

Lauzon has recently posted on Facebook that he has begun talking with FBI investigators and federal prosecutors. As of the Courier’s deadline, no formal complaint had been filed with the Department of Justice.

For Alexander, who recently sat down with the Courier to tell his story (see “Man racked with guilt, PTSD after abuse” on 1), the fact that Dodd remains free causes him a lot of guilt. Alexander said when he first talked to Pulire back in 2002, Pulire mentioned that Dodd’s relationship with his foster son, Larry Carey, was also being investigated. Carey died at the age of 30 in 2000.

When Alexander read Lauzon’s story, he said it brought back guilty feelings. Alexander said if he had come forward earlier to accuse Dodd, perhaps he could have prevented Lauzon from being abused and Carey might still be alive.

With the attorney general failing to take action indicting Dodd, Alexander said feels it is important for others to know what he experienced, and hopes he can prevent others from being abused.

“That man (Dodd) needs to be behind bars,” Alexander said.

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