BIDDEFORD — More than 20 people spoke at a public meeting at Biddeford High School Thursday night to address recent sexual abuse allegations against two retired Biddeford police officers.

Many called for the temporary suspension of Police Chief Roger Beaupre and Deputy Chief JoAnne Fisk. Others called for more permanent action, claiming Beaupre, who was in command when much of the abuse allegedly occurred, must have known what was going on.

The allegations surfaced in February, when Matt Lauzon, a Boston businessman who grew up in Biddeford, began publicly detailing the sexual abuse he allegedly suffered at the hands of Stephen Dodd, who served with the Biddeford Police Department from 1978 to 2003. Lauzon’s story prompted several others to come forward, alleging abuse from not only Dodd but also former detective Norman Gaudette, who served with the BPD from 1973 to 2001.

The Maine Attorney General’s Office conducted separate investigations of both Dodd and Gaudette more than a decade ago but neither was ever charged. Last month, the AG’s Office confirmed it is currently investigating allegations of sexual abuse involving a former Biddeford police officer and a young teenage boy, but the details of that investigation have not been released.

Lauzon spoke three times at the meeting, which was organized through a petition drive, first sharing a letter he said was written by his brother, Chris Lauzon.

“Let’s take some responsibility as a community,” he read. “Let’s seek independent investigation from the Maine State Police or the FBI.”

Sen. David Dutremble, D-Biddeford, said since he has become involved in the situation, alleged victims have been coming to him as opposed to going to the police department or the AG’s Office in fear of their claims being swept under the rug. A letter said to have been written by former Biddeford detective Terry Davis alleges the AG’s Office did “knowingly and purposely throw the case (against Gaudette) under the rug” in the early 1990s.

Furthermore, Dutremble said despite all the media attention the allegations have garnered, neither the AG’s Office nor the BPD have been reaching out directly to the alleged victims.

“No one has reached out,” he said. “You know why? ‘Cause they don’t want to uncover what’s going on. It’s time we check into Biddeford and into the state of Maine, into what is going on.”

Susan Grant, an occupational therapist, began her time at the podium by showing the audience of close to 100 people two CAT-scan photographs: One of a normal 3-year-old’s brain and one displaying the brain of a 3-year-old who’s been abused, which showed noticeable damage. She went on to explain the concept of “triggers,” which are things that cause abuse victims, for whatever reason, to recall their abuse and often become emotionally distraught.

“By keeping the current chief in place, it is setting off triggers and it needs to be recognized,” said Grant. “That is a neurological fact. That’s what it’s doing. Number one, people need to feel safe and secure after abuse. … If you have somebody in a position of power who is setting off triggers, you cannot heal, you cannot recover and your community cannot move forward.”

The meeting also allowed some to speak publicly for the first time about their alleged abuse. Norman Girard, of Old Orchard Beach, was one of those people.

“Life is short,” said Girard, who claims he was abused by Dodd when he was a boy growing up in Biddeford. “We need some healing and we need it now. The city of Biddeford needs to do the right thing. … It’s ludicrous to think that this person (Beaupre) had no idea what was going on.”

James Simpson, of Biddeford, who attended the meeting but didn’t speak, said in an interview earlier that day that in 1984, when he was 22 years old, he was sexually assaulted by Gaudette.

“It only happened for 15 minutes but he fondled me and everything,” he said. “He threatened me with a gun.”

Simpson said although he wasn’t a child when the alleged abuse occurred, he hopes justice will be served nonetheless. “To me rape’s rape … especially at force,” he said, adding that he told several people about the incident over the years, including police officers, but nothing was ever done.

In the late 1980s, Simpson, 52, was convicted of gross sexual assault, but he claims to have been innocent. He said he confessed to the crime, however, out of a fear of police officers bred by his alleged run-in with Gaudette.

City officials listened to the speakers at Thursday’s meeting but weren’t allowed to speak themselves. Mayor Alan Casavant later called the discussion “productive” and said the stories people shared were “heartfelt.”

When asked if officials will consider the many requests to have Beaupre and Fisk suspended, Casavant said the council would first have to privately meet with them and possibly their attorneys.

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

        Comments are not available on this story.

        filed under: