BIDDEFORD — Again and again it happened: blue lights flashing through the windows of the living room where Matt Lauzon played video games with his friends. He was 13 or 14 at the time, and the lights were a constant reminder that he was being watched by the police officer he says abused him.

Racked with fear, he says he kept the abuse secret for more than a decade until he realized he couldn’t help other abuse survivors without first being open about what had happened to him.

“I feel guilt and shame that I didn’t speak up sooner and that (the police officer) has never been convicted,” said Lauzon, who is now 30 and a tech entrepreneur in Boston.

When he finally went to police about 15 years after he says he was abused, Lauzon found himself leading a push for prosecution that has caused him many tears and sleepless nights. That overwhelming emotion is worth it, he says, because “at the end of the day, the most important thing is helping people heal.”

Four months after bringing his allegations to authorities and growing frustrated by the pace of the investigation, Lauzon in March began posting on social media his allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of a police officer while growing up in Biddeford. Lauzon now stands at the center of a scandal that has rocked the city and prompted other alleged victims of two now-retired police officers to come forward. They, like him, are questioning why the officers were never charged.

The public outcry has also led city officials – frustrated by a law that restricts them from talking about ongoing investigations – to push for emergency legislation that would allow them to talk about the allegations that former police officer Stephen Dodd sexually abused Lauzon in the late 1990s.

Dodd was investigated but not charged after similar allegations, involving a different alleged victim, emerged in 2002. After that investigation, Dodd retired from law enforcement at the age of 46 and moved to Florida, where he apparently still lives. His attorney, Gene Libby, has not responded to repeated requests for comment. A second former police officer, Norman Gaudette, was investigated after allegations by different victims surfaced in the early 1990s. He, too, was not charged. Attempts to reach Gaudette for comment have been unsuccessful.

Lauzon, who is the founder of a business networking startup in Boston, is using his social media following to demand a thorough investigation and the suspension of Police Chief Roger Beaupre, who has held that job for 34 years and was in charge during the time when Lauzon says he was abused. His steady stream of Facebook posts about his frustration and outrage at the slow pace of the investigation has rallied supporters from across the country, most of whom he’s never met.


Lauzon listens thoughtfully when people share their stories with him, maintaining constant eye contact. He occasionally breaks down in tears and is often effusive in his praise of the courage of abuse survivors and their supporters. That gentle approach stands in stark contrast to the aggressive – and at times combative – presence he uses online to demand answers from city and state officials.

Lauzon said he never expected to hear from more than 100 abuse victims after sharing his story. Many of them tell him he is the first person they’ve told about their abuse, he said.

“With social media came a really powerful connection that was healing,” Lauzon said.

But Lauzon’s frequent Facebook posts and emails about the investigation have caused headaches for police and city officials, who say they can’t respond to his claims that they looked the other way or that they have not investigated his allegations. Lauzon sends at least one email to city officials every day and frequently posts on the police department’s Facebook page. He has also shared a video he recorded of himself confronting another man he says sexually abused him.

Biddeford’s city attorney has twice sent letters to Lauzon’s attorney, Walter McKee, asking Lauzon to stop calling and emailing city officials because McKee has begun his own investigation and has threatened to sue the city. Beaupre blocked Lauzon on Facebook after he repeatedly tagged the chief in posts about the abuse allegations.

Bob Mills, one of two Biddeford city councilors who have spoken publicly in support of Lauzon, said Lauzon deserves credit for speaking out about his allegations and forcing the issue with city officials.

“He had the courage to come forward because for many, many years people kept this under wraps,” Mills said. “It took someone with courage to bring this to light.”


Lauzon grew up in a house tucked away on a quiet dead-end street within walking distance of Biddeford High School. A few blocks away are the Little League fields where he once pitched for his team, a memory that is now entwined with his story of being sexually abused for the first time.

Lauzon was raised with two brothers by their parents, Michael, a mailman who coached youth sports, and Debbie, who worked as secretary for a doctor’s office. Michael Lauzon died unexpectedly eight years ago when Matt was a sophomore in college. In a blog posted on the anniversary of his father’s death, Lauzon said his father taught him to “Pick your battles … and once you have, fight like hell for what you believe in.”

Debbie Lauzon, who still lives in the home where she raised her children, did not reply to a reporter’s requests for an interview. She often posts supportive messages on her son’s Facebook posts and was by his side last week as he confronted city officials.

Matt Lauzon said he was around 13 when he was abused by a convicted sex offender he met while walking home from his job cleaning a local bank. The man approached him and complimented his pitching during Little League games, Lauzon said. They ended up going back to the man’s house, where Lauzon said he was sexually abused.

A few weeks later, Biddeford detectives went to the Lauzon house because they heard the boy might have had contact with Michael McKeown, the registered sex offender Lauzon now says abused him. Ashamed and afraid, he said he told them nothing had happened. (McKeown last week told the Portland Press Herald he did not abuse Lauzon but had a consensual encounter with Lauzon after the younger man had turned 18.)

Shortly after meeting with the detectives, Lauzon said he received a note through an online instant messaging service from Dodd, then a police sergeant, offering to help the teen. Lauzon says he does not know how Dodd obtained his instant messaging account or learned about his conversation with the detectives.

“I felt a sense of relief, as I had regretted not talking to the two detectives and it felt like this was a chance to talk to an officer I could trust,” Lauzon said.

Instead, Lauzon alleges, Dodd abused him during multiple encounters in cars and the woods. After Lauzon cut off contact with Dodd, the officer would park near Lauzon’s home and flash his lights to intimidate the teen, Lauzon said. The Press Herald has left messages on the voice mail of a cellphone number that Dodd was using as recently as 2011; they were not returned.

For more than a decade, Lauzon never told anyone about what happened.


After graduating from Biddeford High School in 2003, Lauzon attended Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. In 2006, while still in college, he founded the jewelry website Gemvara, which amassed $51 million in venture funding by 2012, when Lauzon stepped down as CEO to focus on other projects.

Lauzon then founded Dunwello, a website for reviews of professionals that launched last year. He raised nearly $2 million in seed funding for that venture. Lauzon, now the CEO of Dunwello, was named to Inc. Magazine’s 2011 “30 Under 30” list and Business Week’s “Top Entrepreneurs Under the Age of 25.” He lives in Boston but visits Maine frequently.

Bob Hower, a Boston business associate and friend who came to Maine to support Lauzon during last week’s City Council meeting, said Lauzon is considered a leader in the startup community in Boston. Lauzon is “an incredibly honest and trustworthy guy,” said Hower, a Dunwello investor.

“He is a leader because he is authentic, he inspires people, he motivates people, he is action-oriented,” Hower said during the meeting. “You guys are really fortunate to have Matt and these other courageous people in this town because they’re going to make a difference.”

While he found success in his career, Lauzon said the abuse weighed heavily on him. His turning point in confronting the allegations came after reading an article in The Guardian by tech entrepreneur Ruzana Bashir, who wrote about being molested as a child. Lauzon contacted Bashir, and they ended up speaking by phone. Bashir encouraged him to report the abuse, and Lauzon contacted Maine State Police, which sent his information to Biddeford police.

In late October, Lauzon sat down for an interview with a Biddeford detective, who then forwarded the complaint to the Attorney General’s Office for investigation. It was the last time he has spoken face to face with an investigator. The Attorney General’s Office confirmed this month that it is investigating allegations that a former Biddeford police officer sexually abused a teenage boy in the late 1990s but would say nothing else about the investigation.

“There needs to be a fair and objective investigation,” Lauzon said. “I simply do not believe that’s happened.”


As frustrated as Lauzon is with the investigation, he said he remains hopeful that something good will come out of the public outcry in Biddeford. On Saturday, Lauzon spoke at a forum hosted by Sen. David Dutremble, D-Biddeford, designed to give alleged sex abuse victims a chance to share their stories. This week, the pair will meet with Gov. Paul LePage.

“I believe the more awareness we bring publicly about sexual abuse, the more we will help survivors heal and prevent young women and men from being abused,” Lauzon said. “I believe if we speak more openly about abuse that survivors will feel less alone and realize they can achieve whatever their definition of success is.”

Melissa Bednarowski, a former city councilor in Biddeford, said she spoke publicly about her experience with sexual abuse for the first time last week because of Lauzon’s influence. She calls him a “pillar of hope for victims.”

“He’s a beacon of positive energy and positive light and proof you can succeed and get past the victimization,” she said. “He shows you can speak your truth once you have your confidence. We don’t often see that because often victims never feel comfortable enough to come forward.”

Lauzon said he is still caught off guard by the emotional weight of hearing from sex abuse victims who have never before spoken about what they endured.

It’s heartbreaking, he says, but also gives him strength and hope that sexual abuse survivors can come together to demand justice and change.

“I can tell you this has been absolute torture,” Lauzon told city officials last week as he spoke publicly for the first time about the allegations.”I hope you understand what it is like to have people call you up and say don’t give up because they are on the verge of suicide and you’re giving me hope.”

During the meeting, a young man Lauzon had never met stepped to speak. As the man described being abused and implored city officials to take action, Lauzon was overcome by emotion. In the hallway, he sobbed in his mother’s arms before composing himself enough to address the council.

“I absolutely lost it a few minutes ago and I didn’t think that would happen tonight,” Lauzon said, his voice shaky.

For four minutes, his voice growing more forceful as he continued, Lauzon described the intimidation he and other victims feel and challenged city officials to do right by victims.

“It is unfortunate to me that it’s been over six months, and after I’ve spent a lot of time and resources, that I still have no idea where things stand,” he said. “I feel a sense of duty to keep going.”

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