2015-05-15 / Front Page

Officials show support during forum

Legislators hear victims’ accounts of abuse they say they experienced at the hands of two former Biddeford police officers
By Molly Lovell-Keely
Managing Editor


Matt Lauzon reads a copy of a statement from former Biddeford Detective Terry Davis at a forum last weekend. Larry Ouellette assists him while other alleged victims Richard Alexander, left, and Robert Kalex stand with them. (Molly Lovell-Keely photo) Matt Lauzon reads a copy of a statement from former Biddeford Detective Terry Davis at a forum last weekend. Larry Ouellette assists him while other alleged victims Richard Alexander, left, and Robert Kalex stand with them. (Molly Lovell-Keely photo) BIDDEFORD – State Sen. David Dutremble said he remembers when local police officer Stephen Dodd used to stop by the Biddeford Fire Department to spend time with the teenage members of the department’s junior firefighters.

“We saw him with children. We all questioned whether it was legitimate or not. It just didn’t seem right, and it wasn’t,” said Dutremble at a public forum Saturday, May 9, held at the J. Richard Martin Community Center for alleged victims of sexual assault who made recent allegations, as well as their supporters.

Biddeford native Matt Lauzon, 30, now of Boston, alleges that Dodd sexually abused him when he was a teen. He began posting about it on Facebook in February when he felt that a statement he gave to the Biddeford Police Department in October went nowhere. Biddeford officials have since forwarded information to the Maine Attorney General’s Office and other alleged victims have come forward as well.


Joanne Twomey, Biddeford resident and former mayor, listens while Larry Ouellette tells about abuse he experienced as a teen. In the background is Deborah Alexander, wife of Richard Alexander, a South Portland man who says he was raped by former officer Stephen Dodd. (Molly Lovell-Keely photo) Joanne Twomey, Biddeford resident and former mayor, listens while Larry Ouellette tells about abuse he experienced as a teen. In the background is Deborah Alexander, wife of Richard Alexander, a South Portland man who says he was raped by former officer Stephen Dodd. (Molly Lovell-Keely photo) Dutremble, a senator who represents Alfred, Biddeford, Dayton, Kennebunkport, and Lyman.

In Maine District 32, hosted the forum in response to community members who felt they were not heard at a May 5 council meeting where Mayor Alan Casavant and councilors were advised not to speak about the investigation. Residents were ruled out of order when they didn’t follow council rules and officials retreated into executive session early when residents became unruly.

“I believe there was some legal advice that may not have been correct, and that’s why they did not speak,” Dutremble said. “I don’t want you to think it was any ploy on their part not to speak.”

Officials who attended the forum included Sen. Bill Diamond, a Democrat in Maine District 26, Rep. Marty Grohman (D-Biddeford), Barbara Childs with Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine and Biddeford City Councilors Bob Mills, Bob Quattrone and Clement Fleurent. Ericka Dodge, spokesman for Maine Senate Democrats, also attended.

“I’m not here to point fingers. I’m not here to accuse anybody of not doing their job. My personal feeling is that 30 years ago this started. The chief of police was there then, he’s here now. Who were you supervising and what were you supervising in your department?” Dutremble asked rhetorically.

“We all have to remember, with that being said, (the chief) has not been charged. There is a process,” Dutremble added.

Diamond, who represents Baldwin, Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish and Windham, said he’s been working on issues of sexual assault, especially child sexual assault, for more than a decade. He’s also worked with the state’s computer crimes unit and on the sex offender registry.

“More can be done in the Legislature, for sure,” he said, adding that crimes such as sexual assault, when tried in Maine courts, face more lenient penalties than if they were tried in a federal court.

Diamond said there’s a measure before the Legislature regarding how mandated reporters are trained. Mandated reporters include law enforcement, teachers, camp counselors, day care workers and others who have regular contact with children and are legally required to report to an authority when abuse is observed or suspected.

“There’s very little training going on,” Diamond said, adding that training is left to each organization to control and needs to be streamlined.

South Portland resident Richard Alexander called Dodd a “serial pedophile.” Alexander alleges he was abused by Dodd when he was a teen and Dodd was 20 years old and they lived six houses apart.

“What Dodd did to me was take away my innocence and hopes and dreams. Ever have a bad day?” he asked. “Try to live with serial abuse 24/7. The shame, the humiliation that these monsters inflicted on us is a burden that we carry around.”

Alexander said the city of Biddeford trying to “silence victims” at the recent council meeting is “atrocious.”

“Try to silence us and we will get stronger,” he said.

Alexander said Dodd “groomed” him. His father was away eight months out of the year because of a career in the military and his mother was also absent.

“I grew up having nothing, and now that I have the resources to push on through this, I feel that everybody in this room that’s been abused, we’re going to prevail.”

Alexander told an investigator from the Attorney General’s Office in 2002 about the alleged abuse he experienced as a teen, but nothing happened and he doesn’t know why. Requests made to the AG’s office for comment have been refused, citing state statute.

“For the nonbelievers, walk, sleep and dream abuse just for one day and you will grasp what I’m saying to you,” he said. “God bless you all.”

Childs, from the nonprofit Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine, said professionals are available to accompany victims to a police station, help them file a report and go through the court process.

“There are many different ways we can help people,” she said, including a 24-hour confidential hotline, 1-800-313-9900.

The grown victims who say they came forward as teens have said they didn’t have advocates to support them.

Quattrone said he and fellow city councilor Mills, along with Vicky Edgerly with the city’s department of health and welfare, want to hold an informational meeting for potential victims and for residents who are “shell shocked” about the abuse allegations against not only Dodd, but former Biddeford police Capt. Norman Gaudette.

Mills said he “had a problem sitting on my hands and just not saying anything,” and interpreted Title 16 differently than city attorney Keith Jacques. Title 16 is a state statute that governs public comment by city officials during criminal investigations. Councilors and the mayor were told it would be illegal for them to recognize a criminal investigation or comment on it, even in a general way. The council voted unanimously on May 5 to ask Dutremble to pursue legislation that loosens those guidelines although, according to statute and Dutremble, it doesn’t appear those guidelines need to be changed.

Former Biddeford resident and once a city councilor, Fred Staples, said his problem is “what’s called the thin blue line.”

“People should have known about this. You’re telling me other people didn’t see kids in this guy’s car?” Staples asked. “Everybody in the police force knows what’s going on, OK? It seems to be that the leadership is enabling this. And I’m talking about the chief of police . . . I’m mad. I’m angry. I think everybody should be angry about this.”

“We’d talk with the kids and the kids would say he was just like a big brother,” Dutremble said about Dodd’s visits to junior firefighters. “I look back now and see these images of the police car driving into the fire station and hanging out with the juniors and it just makes me sick. That’s why I’m here today. I wanted to hear your stories. My job is to try to find resolution and justice.”

Lauzon, who urged Dutremble to organize the forum, arrived an hour after the event started, but with a statement from former Biddeford detective Terry Davis alleging that the AG’s office purposely threw a case against Gaudette, who was suspended for 10 months in the late 1980s after allegations of sexual misconduct. The day before the forum, the Courier conducted an interview with Davis about the investigation He led against Gaudette.

Lauzon said at the forum he will show the handwritten statement to Gov. Paul LePage when he meets with him this week. He said it’s also been given to the U.S. district attorney and the FBI.

Via telephone earlier in the meeting, Lauzon called what’s happening “a movement.”

“It’s only going to get bigger,” he said, adding that the day before was the 10-year anniversary of his father’s death.

“He was a man who believed in standing up for what you believed in,” Lauzon added. “(First we’re) helping people in Biddeford, then in Maine and across the country.”

Lauzon said allegations will continue to surface.

“If even a fraction of them are true, we have something on our hands that is so big I don’t know if any of us could fathom it.”

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