2015-05-08 / Community

Sex offender restrictions depend on municipality

By Ben Meiklejohn
Staff Writer

SOUTHERN MAINE – A man who used Facebook in recent months to accuse a former Biddeford police officer of sexually abusing him as a child has taken a new approach to using social media as a forum to confront abuse.

Matt Lauzon, a Boston resident who grew up in Biddeford, posted an encounter on YouTube between him and another Biddeford man he alleges molested him.

Lauzon, now 30, first posted on Facebook several months ago, claiming to have been sexually abused by former officer Stephen Dodd. Lauzon initially reported the abuse to the Biddeford Police Department in October, which then forwarded the complaint to the attorney general for investigation. Since Lauzon went public with his allegations, three more men have publicly claimed they were abused by Dodd, and three others have alleged they were abused by Norman Gaudette, another retired police officer.

Richard Alexander, a South Portland resident, came forward after reading Lauzon’s story in the Sentry, about alleged abuse he experienced at the hands of Dodd growing up on Beauford Street. At the time, Dodd lived on Fessenden Avenue.

Last week, Lauzon confronted a registered sex offender who lives on May Street, Michael Mckeown, whom he claims also abused him when he was 13 or 14 years old. Lauzon then posted a video of the confrontation on YouTube, titled, “Asking Mike Mckeown to apologize for molesting me.”

According to the Maine Sex Offender Registry, Mckeown has been convicted of two counts of unlawful sexual contact and two counts of gross sexual misconduct.

In a statement that Lauzon submitted to the attorney general on April 15, Lauzon stated, “Admittedly, when I first reported what happened to me in October, I was less focused on this man because I thought he was in jail, but apparently that may not be the case. If he isn’t, I would also like to pursue charges against him.”

Lauzon said Mckeown complimented his pitching as a way to strike up conversation with him. Mckeown lives across the street from Biddeford Little League’s May Street baseball field.

Lauzon claimed Mckeown returned with some food from Burger King and offered it to him, then accompanied him as he walked toward home, eventually inviting Lauzon into his home. Mckeown, Lauzon alleges in the statement, then sexually abused him.

“I recall him reaching over and touching my genitals (over the top of my pants) and feeling embarrassed because I got an erection. He then proceeded to pull down my pants and perform oral sex on me.”

In the video, Lauzon approaches Mckeown and asks, “Would you be willing to apologize for sexually abusing me many years ago?”

After repeatedly being asked by Lauzon to apologize, Mckeown responded, “What do you got AIDS or something?”

Lauzon aimed the camera to a window on the side of the building, saying, “You sexually abused me right there, in that room.”

Mckeown denied abusing Lauzon, and said on the film, “I don’t know why I should apologize for something you wanted – it was a consent situation,” claiming Lauzon was 18 at the time.

Lauzon refuted the age and continued to press Mckeown for an apology, to which Mckeown replied, “Dude, I paid my consequences in my life, OK, and it has nothing to do with you, OK?”

Lauzon has said that two Biddeford police department detectives questioned him about Mckeown’s alleged abuse when Lauzon was a teen. However, he didn’t tell of the alleged abuse because he was embarrassed about the situation and felt uncomfortable because his parents were in the room when questioned.

After posting the YouTube video on Facebook, Lauzon’s friends posted that they couldn’t believe Mckeown was allowed to reside across the street from the baseball field. In the video, a baseball game can be heard, and sometimes seen, taking place in the background.

Lauzon said he didn’t plan to stop and confront Mckeown, but when he drove by, he saw Mckeown holding a garden hose, watering his lawn.

“There was literally a game happening and he was standing with his hose watching. It’s why I felt I needed to stop. So upsetting,” Lauzon wrote on Facebook.

In the video, however, Mckeown has his back to the field. After the incident, Mckeown called the police to complain about Lauzon, but no charges were filed.

Police Chief Roger Beaupre said it didn’t appear that Lauzon had stepped on Mckeown’s property during the confrontation.

Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said there are no state or federal laws restricting where registered sex offenders may live, although municipalities are allowed to enact their own ordinances. Residency restrictions can also be made a condition of probation by the courts on an individual case-by-case basis, McCausland added.

Lauzon said he was surprised there was no state law restricting where registered sex offenders could live and he planned on raising the issue with Gov. Paul LePage. Lauzon met with officials from the governor’s office on Tuesday, May 5 to arrange for a personal meeting with LePage in the near future.

“The governor’s office has been extremely supportive every step of the way,” Lauzon said.

Greg Paquet, supervisor of the Maine Sex Offender Registry, said most municipalities do not have their own ordinances.

“It’s definitely the exception to the norm,” said Paquet, who could only think of a few municipalities off the top of his head – Baldwin, Madison, South Portland and Westbrook.

Saco City Administrator Richard Michaud said the Saco City Council had discussed the possibility several years ago of limiting where sex offenders can reside, but ultimately decided not to enact restrictions.

Biddeford City Manager John Bubier said he believes Ward 2 City Councilor John McCurry Jr. may have raised the issue during his previous tenure, but the council never passed an ordinance. McCurry was also a councilor from 1999 to 2007.

McCurry said he remembers having a discussion about a sexual predator who was going to move to Biddeford, and residents posting fliers around the neighborhood.

“There was a lot of publicity about someone getting out of jail and Portland didn’t want him. We couldn’t keep him out of town, but now that there’s something on the books (that allows municipalities to enact their own ordinances), it’s worth looking into,” McCurry said.

Scarborough Town Manager Thomas Hall said Scarborough, like most towns, doesn’t have its own local ordinances affecting registered sex offenders. However, Hall said the town does extract Scarborough residents from the state’s database of sex offenders and publishes the information on the town’s website.

Like most other municipalities in southern Maine, Cape Elizabeth and Old Orchard Beach also lack ordinances regulating residencies for sex offenders.

In 2014, the South Portland City Council passed Section 2120, a residency restriction for sex offenders, in the city ordinance. The city’s website includes a map that displays numerous areas in the city where offenders are prohibited from living.

South Portland Police Chief Edward Googins said the ordinance essentially restricts offenders from living within a 750-foot radius from certain types of properties such as schools, parks and athletic fields.

Googins said when the ordinance passed, it did not impact those offenders who were already living in the restricted areas of the city.

Googins said the ordinance couldn’t have been crafted in such a way so as to restrict offenders from living in the city, but much of the city is now off limits to sex offenders – all the areas within 750 feet of the city’s numerous schools, parks, playgrounds and athletic fields.

“We had to still allow areas for them to live,” Googins said. “I think this ordinance did a very good job in concentrating on those areas where young people would be more likely to be congregating.”

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