2015-04-17 / Community

Accused man not found in city employment records

By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — One of the most concerning allegations made by South Portland resident Richard Alexander, at least so far as his fellow city residents may be concerned, is that he was raped inside a Knightville firehouse by a member of the South Portland Fire Department.

Alexander is one of three men to come forward in recent weeks claiming to have been molested as boys by Stephen M. Dodd, a former Biddeford police officer.

Alexander actually first leveled his claims against Dodd more than a decade ago and has provided to the Sentry paperwork from an investigation conducted by the Maine Attorney General’s Office, including interview summaries prepared by Detective Michael Pulire on April 18, 2002, and Feb. 6, 2003. On July 18, 2003, Dodd tendered his resignation from the Biddeford Police Force and, in a July 8, 2003 letter to Brian MacMaster, chairman of the trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, agreed to “unconditionally surrender (his) certificate of eligibility to perform duties as a law enforcement officer in the state of Maine.”

However, in an April 6 answer to a Maine Freedom of Access Act request filed by Mainely Media, Assistant Attorney General Phyllis Gardiner, citing confidentiality laws, refused to confirm her office ever conducted an investigation of Dodd.

Alexander reported in his 2002 depositions that he was molested by Dodd starting when he was “10 or 12,” which would have been between late 1972 through 1975, until December 1977, when he was 15. The last time Dodd sodomized Alexander, according to the latter’s 2003 testimony, was in June 1977, when he was 14.

Dodd was hired by Old Orchard Beach as a reserve police officer in May 1977, according to Pulire’s 2003 report. In his letter to MacMaster, Dodd claimed to have been on the Biddeford Police Department for 25 years, which would place his hiring date in 1978. The Biddeford Police Department confirmed that Dodd was hired in 1978 and retired in 2003. It was also confirmed that Dodd was the subject of a 2002 investigation by the Attorney General’s Office.

Pulire’s paperwork does not give Dodd’s date of birth, but does say he was 20 years old at the time of the reported rape of Alexander in June 1977. During this time, Alexander claims, Dodd was a captain with the Knightville Call Company, then an independent subsidiary of the South Portland Fire Department. Although he has not been able to provide exact dates, Alexander said in an April 10 interview with the Sentry that he was twice raped by Dodd inside the Knightville fire station, which was located on the ocean side of E Street. These rapes are also referenced in the Pulire’s 2002 report.

“Alexander recalled Dodd being a member of the call fire company in the Knightville section of South Portland and that Dodd often took him to the fire station where, when the two were alone, Dodd performed and received oral sex from Alexander,” Pulire wrote.

In the April 10 interview, Alexander recalled one incident at the fire station lasted “an hour and a half.”

In marked contrast to the Attorney General’s Office, officials in South Portland have worked diligently to provide details of Dodd’s service with the city, logging several hours on Monday searching through 40-year old employment records. Those efforts, however, have thus far proven fruitless.

City Manager Jim Gailey said Monday that he and Human Resources Director Don Brewer could find no evidence that Dodd was ever employed by South Portland.

However, the caveat to that, Gailey noted in a voice mail message, is that South Portland’s call companies were formed as independent organizations, some actually being older than the city itself. They were not fully integrated into the city’s employment structure until the 1980s when, for insurance purposes, volunteer firefighters came to be considered city employees. Prior to that, Gailey said, the city would write a lump sum check to the call companies, which would then dole out the funds to their members based on hours served on training and at emergency calls.

It is presumed that any tenure Dodd had with the Knightville Call Company would have ended in 1978, when he reportedly moved to Biddeford at the start of his employment there.

According to Fire Chief Kevin Guimond, the Knightville crew was known as the Engine 8 Call Company, although it did not actually have its own fire engine. It was a manpower company formed, he said, to augment crews at the central fire station, which opened in the 1950s. The Engine 8 Call Company held meetings at its E Street station — not a purpose-built fire station, but an actual house, according to Gailey — through the 1970s. The company was disbanded around 1989, Guimond said, because its roster had fallen to just three active members.

The Knightville firehouse was used as a storage building by the city through the 1980s and was torn down at some point in the early 1990s, Gailey said.

Guimond reported in a Monday email that while he has “great records” of every full-time firefighter who served the city since 1927, personnel records from the old call companies are scant to nonexistent. What the city does have, Guimond said, is records of permits issued as far back as 1962 to volunteer firefighters, allowing them to display red emergency lights in their personal vehicles. Alexander has vivid memories of the two-door green Plymouth sedan Dodd used to drive, but Guimond says no record exists of a red-light permit ever being issued to a Stephen Dodd, or to a Steven Dodd for that matter, which is how the name is spelled in the attorney general reports.

Guimond wrote that he also was able to uncover records of equipment and personal safety gear issued to the call companies during the 1970s. However, he was unable to find evidence of any item ever assigned to Dodd, Guimond said.

The Dodd family was reportedly well known during their time. Stephen Dodd’s father, Clement Dodd Sr., died in 2013 and his obituary in the Portland Press Herald reported that he was a 23-year member of the Portland Police Department who later went on to join the Secret Service, becoming “the supervisory officer in charge of the security detail at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport.” Dodd’s grandfather also had been the fire chief in Portland, according to the Press Herald obituary.

“Everybody around here knew the Dodd family,” said Alexander’s wife, Deborah, who went to South Portland High School with some of Dodd’s siblings. Even being several years behind Stephen Dodd in school, she knew him by reputation, she said.

However, neither Guimond, who joined the South Portland Fire Department in 1987, nor Gailey, a lifelong city resident, have any knowledge of Dodd or his family, they report.

City Councilor Tom Blake, also a South Portland native, who joined the fire department in 1980, also has no knowledge of Dodd.

“I do know many of the old-time names,” Blake wrote in an April 10 email. “I read the story (about Dodd) in the paper, but I have never heard his name.”

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