BIDDEFORD — Matt Lauzon, whose sexual abuse allegations against a former Biddeford police officer have initiated an investigation by the Maine Attorney General’s Office, met with Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday to discuss how the allegations have been handled as well as how to combat sexual abuse in general.

“He made it very clear that this isn’t a partisan issue,” Lauzon said Friday of his meeting with the governor. “It’s way too important.”

Rather than focusing on his own alleged abuse, Lauzon said he used Thursday’s meeting to discuss with LePage the need to strengthen state laws regarding sexual abuse.

“I was very focused on the longer-term needs for changes in legislation to make Maine a model state for handling sexual abuse,” he said, adding that the governor has in the past taken a strong stance against domestic violence, and he hopes for him to do the same on this issue.

In February, Lauzon, a 30-year-old entrepreneur who grew up in Biddeford but now lives in Boston, began discussing on Facebook the sexual abuse he allegedly suffered as a boy at the hands of former Sgt. Stephen Dodd, who served with the Biddeford Police Department from 1978 to 2003.

Lauzon’s story triggered a flood of similar allegations against Dodd as well as former detective Norman Gaudette, who served with the BPD from 1973 to 2001. The Attorney General’s Office conducted separate investigations of both Dodd and Gaudette more than a decade ago but neither was ever charged.

On April 30, the Attorney General’s Office confirmed it is currently investigating allegations of sexual abuse against a former Biddeford officer, but the details of that investigation remain unclear.

Lauzon said he also used the meeting with LePage as a platform to bring to light what he claims have been failures by the Attorney General’s Office and the Biddeford Police Department.

“I made it very clear that I felt there was a pattern here of allegations against officers in Biddeford ”“ at least two ”“ and that many of the same people at the AG’s Office and the current police chief have been involved and there haven’t been any prosecutions,” said Lauzon.

At a May 9 public meeting regarding the allegations, Lauzon read a letter he said was written by a former Biddeford police detective suggesting the Attorney General’s Office “knowingly and purposely” threw the case against Gaudette under the rug in the early ”˜90s.

LePage could not be reached for comment by press time, but in an interview with WMTW Thursday, he said, “I told (Lauzon) that I would do everything that we possibly can. … If the Attorney General’s Office worked for me, I would take action.”

In a letter dated May 14, Mayor Alan Casavant thanked the governor for meeting with Lauzon.

“The Biddeford City Council and I are quite certain that justice will be served, and certainly your firm leadership will be of great assistance in reaching that positive outcome,” Casavant wrote.

The mayor also told LePage the city would be “honored” if he could attend a public meeting regarding the allegations at City Hall on Tuesday, from 5-7 p.m.

The meeting was scheduled after Biddeford resident Mellisa Luedke collected more than 100 signatures on a petition urging city officials to again hear from the public regarding the allegations. The public has aired their concerns on the matter at two prior City Council meetings.

The past meetings drew indignant testimony from the alleged victims and their supporters, many of whom called for the temporary suspension of Police Chief Roger Beaupre and Deputy Chief JoAnne Fisk. Proponents of that action have for weeks argued that keeping them in power deters other alleged victims from coming forward.

Casavant said in an email on May 8 that he doesn’t believe that is the right course of action, and in a recent press release he indicated that neither Beaupre nor Fisk handle calls regarding sexual abuse allegations.

“The protocol is that when a call of that nature comes in to the Biddeford Police Department it is directed to Detective Sergeant Greenwood,” Casavant said in the release. “If he is available, he takes the call, processes the intake of all information, and then forwards reported cases to the office of the Maine Attorney General for investigation. If he’s not in, folks can leave a voicemail, and he will get back to them as soon as possible.”

Additionally, Casavant said all along people have had the option of reporting alleged sexual abuse directly to the Attorney General’s Office.

— Staff Writer Angelo J. Verzoni can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]

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