BIDDEFORD — The Biddeford City Council passed a resolution Monday saying it will not suspend the police chief and deputy chief in the midst of a contentious sexual abuse scandal involving a former police officer.

After a 90-minute executive session, the council voted 6-2 in favor of the resolution, which says there isn’t enough evidence to take “adverse employment action” against Police Chief Roger Beaupre and Deputy Chief JoAnne Fisk.

Councilors Bob Mills and Robert Quattrone voted against the resolution. Absent from the meeting was Councilor Roger Hurtubise, the uncle of Matt Lauzon, the man whose allegations of abuse by a former officer touched off the public outcry.

Lauzon declined to comment and left City Hall visibly upset after the vote. As councilors and the mayor left City Hall, they were taunted by several supporters who had pushed for the chiefs to be put on leave.

Monday’s meeting was the second time in a week that the council met in private to discuss calls from the public to put Beaupre and Fisk on paid administrative leave while state authorities investigate sexual abuse allegations made against a now-retired Biddeford officer.

Alleged victims and their supporters have packed city meetings in recent weeks to call on municipal leaders to suspend the chiefs so other potential victims can come forward. They also are pushing for an outside investigation of the police department.

Lauzon, a Boston businessman who grew up in Biddeford, has pushed for the suspension of Beaupre and Fisk while the Maine Attorney General’s Office investigates Lauzon’s allegations that he was molested by a Biddeford officer more than a decade ago. City officials say the Attorney General’s Office has given no indication of wrongdoing by Beaupre and Fisk, and last week Mayor Alan Casavant asked that residents pushing for their suspension provide him with evidence of mishandled cases.

“The mayor and city council takes all citizen input seriously. We do not condone any case of abuse or mistreatment,” Casavant said while reading the resolution. “After a long and extensive review of all available information at this time, the mayor and city council will not be seeking to initiate any adverse employment action against either Police Chief Roger Beaupre and/or Deputy Chief JoAnne Fisk.”

The City Council met with Beaupre and Fisk for more than two hours during an executive session on June 1 to discuss their responses to the sexual abuse allegations.

During a June 2 council meeting, Hurtubise made a motion to suspend Beaupre and Fisk pending the outcome of an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office into sexual abuse allegations against former Biddeford officer Stephen Dodd. The motion was ruled out of order by Casavant after City Attorney Harry Center said the suspensions would be illegal because a city employee must be given adequate notice and have the opportunity to be represented by an attorney before such an action is taken.

Mills, one of the councilors who opposed the resolution and who has spoken in support of suspending the chiefs, said he agreed with the part of the resolution that does not condone abuse.

“I’m not satisfied,” he said of the second half of the resolution, which said Beaupre and Fisk would not be suspended.

After the meeting, several supporters of Lauzon and other alleged victims who had been vocal at past council meetings declined to comment.

Roch Angers, a former city councilor who has attended recent meetings about the allegations, said the resolution was “just a statement.”

“You can have all the resolutions you want,” he said. “They need to stand up one way or another through a motion on the floor, not a resolution.”

Casavant said councilors are trying to balance concern for the alleged victims with their obligation to provide due process to city employees. He said the majority of councilors were “very uncomfortable” placing Beaupre and Fisk on leave without concrete evidence of wrongdoing.

“There’s just not enough evidence to make any suspensions or to trigger any leaves of absence,” he said.

Beaupre and Fisk did not attend the meeting and were not available for comment Monday night.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

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