BIDDEFORD — Stephen Dodd’s career as a police officer appeared to be a successful one until it ended abruptly in 2003, when he was just 46 years old. The son of a respected cop, he had gone into law enforcement at the age of 19, had once been commended for bravery after chasing down a runaway car, and eventually attained the rank of sergeant.

But his personal life raised eyebrows, even among his fellow officers. Dodd rarely associated with other cops when off duty, instead surrounding himself with a constantly changing group of young men who hung out in his home and drove around town in his truck. While those relationships fueled local gossip, few people knew about the allegations that he had sexually abused boys – allegations that would eventually end his career and, 12 years later, ignite a scandal that has roiled this city of 21,000 for months.

“We always had our suspicions, but we never had anything factual to report,” retired Biddeford police Officer Lloyd Gaudette said of rumors that Dodd had relationships with younger men. “It just didn’t seem right, but I never saw anything happen.”

Old accusations against Dodd have resurfaced, and new ones have emerged. Together they have dominated local conversations and city meetings for the first half of this year, as alleged victims and their supporters – led by a Boston businessman who grew up in Biddeford and says Dodd molested him – wage a public campaign to hold city and police leaders accountable for the abuse.

None of the accusations against him have resulted in criminal charges, though the Maine Attorney General’s Office is investigating the fresh ones. An earlier investigation by that office, into allegations that he molested teenage boys, led Dodd to resign and surrender his law enforcement certificate in 2003, though few people knew the reason for his abrupt retirement.

Dodd’s whereabouts today are unknown. One old friend said she had heard from Dodd’s family that he is living in his RV in Wal-Mart parking lots.

Repeated efforts to reach him for comment using previously listed addresses, phone numbers and an email address, through his attorney and by searching area campgrounds, have been unsuccessful. An email sent to Dodd’s address last week was replied to, although he did not provide a comment or respond to a request for an interview.

It’s not clear whether Dodd, who is now 58, has been interviewed by the Attorney General’s Office as part of the ongoing investigation. The AG’s office has not commented on the allegations, beyond confirming the investigation.

Gene Libby, an attorney who informed the city that he represents Dodd, has not responded to repeated phone calls and emails, and a reporter who visited his office was told that he wasn’t available. Libby recently released a letter defending a different former Biddeford police officer accused of sexual impropriety but has not issued any statements about Dodd.

The Maine Sunday Telegram has spent two months piecing together a portrait of the man at the center of the controversy. Reporters contacted his friends, neighbors, colleagues and relatives, scoured the neighborhood where he grew up as well as the Florida town where he ultimately moved, and reviewed police reports, court filings and other documents. Many, often conflicting, sides of him emerged – one person’s recollection of a quiet kid clashing with another’s memories of a sexual predator.

In the end, Stephen Dodd remains an elusive figure.

• • • • •

Dodd grew up on Fessenden Avenue in South Portland in the 1960s and 1970s. The neighborhood off Ocean Street was replete with children who played kickball in the street.

Stephen was the oldest of Clemson and Patricia Dodd’s four boys. The parents worked opposing schedules, with Patricia leaving for work as a nurse at 3 p.m. and Clemson getting home from the Portland Police Department at 5 p.m., according to neighbor Prudy Wiggins, who lived across the street from the Dodds. Clemson served on the Portland police for 23 years before joining the Secret Service.

Wiggins, who is a year older than Stephen, says she helped him get through South Portland High School, typing his papers and explaining subjects he struggled with.

“He was a very nice kid,” she recalled.

Susan Harkins, Dodd’s maternal aunt, remembers a quiet youth who kept to himself even as his siblings were running around or splashing in the pool. She never got along with him, she said.

“He was very quiet, didn’t mingle with anybody I knew of,” Harkins said. Dodd was a big kid but didn’t play sports as his brothers did.

Dodd’s 1975 high school yearbook shows he was involved in few activities. He aspired to be a police officer and was part of the honor assembly.

But Clemson Dodd Sr. also had an alcohol problem, one that affected his family life. Harkins said she was sure the drinking was troubling for the children. She remembers tending to her sister – Dodd’s mother – after Clemson had assaulted her, which happened more than once. Once, Harkins’ husband had to pick up the children at school because their father was on a rampage.

“They grew up with it,” she said of the Dodd children. “It’s creepy.”

Clemson Dodd Sr. would, however, have an impressive law enforcement career. He rose to the level of captain of detectives in Portland and received the department’s meritorious service award. After retiring, he joined the Secret Service, where he supervised the security detail at Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport, helping guard President George H.W. Bush for 19 years, according to his obituary.

By the time he graduated from high school, Stephen Dodd had decided to become a police officer like his father.

But at the same time he was forming ambitions of following his father into law enforcement, he also was allegedly engaging in the kind of sexual abuse for which he would later be investigated.

• • • • •

Rick Alexander, who lived a couple of blocks away from Dodd, says he was about 10 or 11 when Dodd – five years older – first performed oral sex on him in the mid-1970s.

A group of kids were camping out in the backyard of another family. During an evening game of hide-and-seek, Dodd corralled him into the tent to hide and raped him, Alexander told an investigator for the Attorney General’s Office in 2002.

Over the next few years, Dodd molested Alexander several times, he said during his police interview and again this spring when interviewed by the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Dodd was a family friend, and Alexander’s mother encouraged him to spend time with Dodd because he seemed like a good role model.

“My parents and everyone trusted him,” he told the investigator.

Dodd would stop by and ask for Alexander’s help with menial tasks, like washing his car or cleaning his gun, so they could be alone, said Alexander, who still lives in the same part of South Portland.

Dodd, who was much larger than Alexander, would use his weight to hold the younger boy still and sometimes tried to handcuff him, Alexander told the investigator.

• • • • •

After graduating from South Portland High School, Dodd enrolled in the law enforcement technology program at Southern Maine Vocational-Technical Institute in South Portland. Dodd attended the school, now known as Southern Maine Community College, for the fall 1975 and spring 1976 semesters, according to school records. He did not graduate.

In the summer of 1977, Dodd began working as a reserve police officer in Old Orchard Beach. He was 19 at the time, still living in South Portland. Alexander was 14. According to Alexander, the sexual abuse continued even after Dodd became an adult and began his career.

Alexander described how Dodd would give the neighborhood youths fireworks and beer that Dodd said he had seized during his shifts in Old Orchard Beach. When he opened the trunk of his green Plymouth two-door sedan, it was like “pirate treasure” to the kids, Alexander said.

Unbeknownst to Alexander, his younger brother had a similar encounter with Dodd at that time, according to a written statement that Jon Alexander emailed to the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Jon Alexander said he recalls being at his cousin’s house a few doors down the street, when Dodd came into the house wearing his Old Orchard Beach uniform. They were alone. Jon made a wisecrack about Dodd being a “rent a cop.”

“I must (have) made him angry because next thing I know he grabs me, put my hands in handcuffs and shoves me on the couch, pins me down, then puts his hand in my pants” and sexually assaulted him, Jon Alexander said in the email.

He heard the voices of people returning to the house, and Dodd stopped. Jon said he thinks one of the people was his aunt, who told Dodd to remove the handcuffs but apparently did not see Dodd’s hand in the boy’s pants or know about the abuse.

Afterward, Jon avoided Dodd and never told his parents, his brother or anyone else in authority, and for years he didn’t trust police, he said. He said he decided to tell the story only after his brother publicly came forward in recent months.

• • • • •

In July 1978, Dodd resigned from the job in Old Orchard Beach to become a full-time officer in Biddeford, according to Old Orchard Beach Police Chief Dana Kelley. He moved out of his family’s home and bought a house in Biddeford.

Jean Atherton, Clemson Dodd Sr.’s longtime companion after he and his wife divorced, said recently she has not seen or spoken with Stephen Dodd in years, but she recalled that the elder Dodd was proud that his son had gone into law enforcement. Clemson Dodd died in 2013. Dodd’s mother, Patricia, died four months later.

On the job, Dodd could be both aggressive and friendly, according to people who knew him at the time. Several residents who encountered Dodd while he was on patrol described the officer as friendly with a good sense of humor, while others who met him – including his alleged victims – say he used his badge to intimidate them.

“He was aggressive, and he did his job,” said Steve Martin, a retired Biddeford officer, who started working for the department in 1979 and was occasionally partnered with Dodd when they were patrolmen. “He was pretty much above board when he was working.” Martin said he rarely associated with Dodd off the job.

The department gave Dodd a commendation for bravery in 1982 after he broke the window of a runaway car and leaped inside to stop it from hitting bystanders, according to a 1982 Portland Press Herald article.

In January 1984, when he was 26, Dodd was hospitalized after he was rammed and dragged by three people on a snowmobile. In an interview with the Press Herald from his hospital bed, Dodd said he tried to stop the snowmobile because it was being illegally driven down May Street. Dodd also had been run over by a pickup truck during a traffic stop four years earlier.

In 1987, Dodd was injured during what was described at the time as a “near-riot” at the city’s annual La Kermesse festival. While Dodd was trying to break up fights just outside of the festival, a man began punching him repeatedly in the head until other officers intervened. Dodd was treated for a mild concussion, and the man who punched him was charged with assaulting an officer, according to a Press Herald article.

• • • • •

Eventually rumors swirled around Biddeford that Dodd was hanging out with younger men and possibly having relationships with teenagers, though people who knew the officer said they never saw anything illegal to report.

Martin said people began to gossip after they realized Dodd often had younger men – usually in their late teens or early 20s – hanging around his house. But Martin said he and other officers didn’t see any inappropriate behavior that made them suspect Dodd was abusing teenage boys.

“At some point, it became pretty evident that he was gay. I couldn’t care less, because that was his business,” Martin said. “There was always someone different answering the door. It raised eyebrows a bit, but there was nothing to raise suspicions to follow up on.”

Gaudette – the retired officer who is not related to Norman Gaudette, another Biddeford officer who was accused of sex abuse – said he never liked Dodd during the years they worked together. Dodd often let younger men and teens drive his truck, and rarely socialized with other officers outside of work, he said.

“We always had our suspicions, but we never had anything factual to report,” Lloyd Gaudette said of rumors that Dodd had relationships with younger men. “It just didn’t seem right, but I never saw anything happen.”

Bill Sexton, who has known Dodd since the early 1990s through Sexton’s business, Grady’s Radio & Satellite TV, said he heard rumors about Dodd spending time with teenagers but didn’t put much stock in them. Sexton installed several satellite dishes for Dodd over the years, and Dodd often stopped by the store to chat.

“He was always joking around,” Sexton said. “I was never afraid to go to his house to work. Nothing there was ever odd.”

Dodd once accompanied Sexton and his friend Tim Sevigny, a Biddeford firefighter, on a vacation to Florida when Sexton and Sevigny were 21 and 22 years old.

The two men kept their distance from Dodd while in Florida, but Dodd never said or did anything inappropriate during the trip, Sexton said.

After the trip, Sevigny heard rumors that Dodd was interested in younger men and noticed younger people regularly hung around his house, he said.

“It was like a Big Brothers, Big Sisters Club at Dodd’s house,” Sevigny said. “There was always someone there.”

• • • • •

Sometime in the 1980s, Dodd became a foster father to a teenager who had run into trouble and needed a home.

Larry Carey was a popular varsity football player in Biddeford known for cracking jokes. Penny Rossignol, Carey’s younger sister, said she can’t remember exactly when Dodd took in her brother or how long they lived together.

“We were wards of the state,” said Rossignol, who now lives in Pennsylvania. “Larry got in some trouble, and Steve took him in.”

Rossignol said she saw her brother occasionally during the years he lived with Dodd, but she barely knew the police officer he lived with. When she was over for a visit, Dodd would go off and do his own thing, she said.

“Larry never liked living with him because apparently (he felt) Steve was abusive,” Rossignol said. Carey never said Dodd abused him sexually, however, she said. There are no public records indicating Carey ever filed abuse complaints against Dodd.

Gaudette, the retired officer who worked with Dodd, said he recalls one time when police were called to the Dodd house to deal with a situation involving Carey. Although police say they have no report about the incident, Gaudette says police were called after Carey stabbed or somehow popped a water bed.

Carey graduated from Biddeford High School in 1989 but died in 2000 after a long illness that his sister said was caused by heavy drinking. He was 30.

Carey is buried in a Biddeford cemetery, his grave marked with an elaborate headstone etched with his portrait. The plot, covered with white rocks and meticulously maintained, was purchased by Dodd.

• • • • •

Matt Lauzon says he first encountered Dodd in the late 1990s, when Lauzon was a teenager growing up in Biddeford.

Lauzon says Dodd made contact with him soon after Lauzon was molested by a registered sex offender who lived nearby.

Police first went to Lauzon’s house after receiving a tip he had contact with the sex offender, but Lauzon says he was afraid and lied to the officers, denying that anything had happened. Within weeks, he said, he received an online instant message from someone using the handle “biddefordboys.” The message assured Lauzon that its author knew what happened to him and could help him. Lauzon says “biddefordboys” later identified himself as Dodd, who was a sergeant at the time.

“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,” said Lauzon, who is now 30 and lives in Boston.

Lauzon says Dodd molested him during their first meeting, then in subsequent meetings, giving him beer and money. Lauzon says he won’t talk about the abuse in detail – and won’t reveal how old he was or how long the abuse took place – because of the ongoing investigation.

After Lauzon cut off contact with Dodd, he says the officer started a campaign of intimidation that included pulling his cruiser up to Lauzon as the teen walked through the city and flashing lights into his house at night.

“It was very scary,” Lauzon said.

Lauzon said he doesn’t know how Dodd learned that he had been abused by another man.

The man whom Lauzon accused of the initial sexual abuse, a registered sex offender named Michael McKeown, has insisted that Lauzon was an adult when they had consensual sex. McKeown said he did not know Dodd but had heard rumors for years that the officer had relationships with younger men.

• • • • •

Rick Alexander was one of the first two people to complain formally about Dodd. In 2002, prompted in part by the clergy sex abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church, he reported to the Attorney General’s Office that Dodd had abused him in the 1970s.

Around the same time, authorities learned of another alleged victim of sexual abuse by Dodd, according to an attorney who represents at least two other alleged victims. That attorney, Walter McKee, said he has spoken with the man who first brought the case to authorities’ attention.

The Maine Sunday Telegram is not naming that alleged victim, who has not spoken publicly and declined to be interviewed for this story.

The Attorney General’s Office investigated the allegations against Dodd at the time but did not bring charges. The AG’s office has declined to talk about the case, so it’s not clear whether the statute of limitations came into play. Since 1992, sexual assault on a child can be prosecuted no matter how much time has elapsed, but that was not the case in the 1970s, when Alexander was allegedly abused. Back then, cases older than six years could not be prosecuted.

Steven Rowe, the attorney general at the time, said he does not recall an investigation of Dodd and that the name is not familiar to him.

The Biddeford Police Department suspended Dodd during the investigation. After it was completed, he retired, having served on the force for 25 years. He was 46. In a letter to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy dated June 25, 2003, Dodd unconditionally surrendered his certificate of eligibility to work as a law enforcement officer in Maine. “I further agree not to work as a law enforcement officer between the date of this agreement and my retirement on July 18, 2003,” Dodd wrote.

The fact that Dodd’s agreement to retire followed the 2002 investigation by the Attorney General’s Office into allegations that he had sexually abused boys was not widely known at the time and not publicly confirmed until last month.

At the time, Dodd told friends it was his diabetes that made it hard for him to work. He made no mention of the internal investigation that included a review by the Criminal Justice Academy’s board of trustees, the group that decides whether someone has the moral character required to be a police officer.

“He said the diabetes was getting the better part of him and he couldn’t continue to be a police officer,” said Prudy Wiggins, who lived across the street from him when he was growing up and has stayed in touch over the years. “I didn’t know they let him go.”

Two months after his retirement, Dodd appeared before the Biddeford Police Commission to complain that Chief Roger Beaupre had not given him a retirement plaque and the identification card typically issued to retired officers. The commission chairman told him that it was up to the chief to issue a plaque and the commission took no action to address the complaint, according to meeting minutes.

There are no public records explaining why Dodd was denied the usual retirement perks.

Beaupre is still the police chief in Biddeford and has been the focus of intense criticism, including calls for his suspension, by those who say Dodd should have been prosecuted and punished years ago. Beaupre has said the ongoing investigation prevents him from discussing Dodd, the allegations of sexual abuse or the circumstances surrounding Dodd’s retirement.

However, when Rick Alexander asked the Attorney General’s Office what became of his 2002 allegations, he was sent a document showing that Dodd had surrendered his eligibility to work as a police officer.

• • • • •

Dodd, who never married, retired to Florida with a pension that in 2013 paid him $41,000 a year.

In 2004, he bought a one-acre lot for $36,000 in a subdivision in Lakeland, Florida, and two years later built a comfortable ranch-style house. Dodd seemed nice enough in the few times she encountered him, said neighbor Esther Snowden.

“I don’t think he really liked it here,” she said. “He didn’t really stay out here too long.”

Dodd actually lived there for several years, but Snowden said she didn’t see him. “I didn’t even know he was gone till I saw the new people moving in,” she said.

Michael Garreans, who sold the lot to Dodd and lives next door, said he barely took notice of Dodd.

“He kept to himself,” Garreans said.

The only thing that caught Garreans’ eye was when Dodd – who was listed in 2011 as 6-foot-1 and 350 pounds – bought a Smart car, a two-seater about half the length of a standard sedan.

“It looked funny, him getting in one of those little Smart cars,” Garreans said.

In December 2011, a Polk County sheriff’s deputy was called to Dodd’s house by Michaell Brewer for a report of a domestic disturbance.

Brewer was trying to leave, and the two of them had been fighting over a bag he was trying to pack, according to a police report. Asked what kind of relationship they had, Brewer told police that Dodd “took him in and was helping him out.” Dodd was 53 and Brewer was 21 at the time.

Brewer told police Dodd became angry when Brewer tried to take a sex toy. Dodd pushed the smaller man – 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds – to the bed and lay on top of him, pulling away the bag and wrapping his arm around Brewer’s neck.

Dodd told police it was Brewer who had hit him. He said Brewer had lived there about two months and they had sex, but not often. Besides Brewer, police also took statements from a man and a woman, a couple who described themselves as roommates of Dodd’s.

Dodd was charged with domestic violence battery, but the charge was later dropped.

• • • • •

In 2013, Dodd lost his Lakeland house.

He had taken on a $200,000 mortgage to build the house, and when the real estate market crashed a few years later, Dodd owed more on the house than it was worth, and he stopped making payments. The bank moved to foreclose.

Dodd filed for personal bankruptcy on March 11, 2013. He listed his assets as a 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac, a 60-inch LED flat-screen TV, a PlayStation 3 video game console, a $15 watch, clothes and a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun.

The house was sold as a “short sale,” meaning Dodd got nothing for it, since it sold for less than he owed on it.

Dodd apparently now lives in an RV. The mailing address Dodd lists on his driver’s license and other official paperwork is the address for MyRVmail.com, which specializes in forwarding mail for people living for long periods in recreational vehicles.

Dodd has returned regularly to Maine in the summertime, staying in a large RV at local campgrounds, according to people who know him.

Despite the fight that led to the police visit back in 2011, Brewer has apparently stayed with Dodd.

When Dodd got into an accident in Orlando in February 2013, Brewer was in the car. And in June 2014, Dodd and Brewer were together in Maine when Brewer suffered an apparent drug overdose.

Biddeford police received a call at 10:30 a.m. one day to a Western Avenue apartment where the resident reported that Brewer had collapsed and his skin was turning pale.

Officer Jacob Wolterbeek questioned Brewer at the hospital after he had been treated by rescue workers. Brewer said he had injected crushed OxyContin, according to the police report. His arms showed signs of previous needle injections, the report said.

“Michael claimed that he was given the pills by a friend, who he refused to identify,” the report said. “Shortly after I spoke with him, Stephen Dodd, who Michael identified as his ‘uncle,’ arrived on scene.”

• • • • •

Prudy Wiggins, who grew up across the street from Dodd, said her old friend and neighbor has periodically visited the house on Fessenden Avenue that she shares with her mother, June.

June Wiggins said she volunteers to hem his pants if they need it. “You couldn’t ask for a nicer kid,” she said.

Dodd never appeared to have a companion when he visited from Florida, they said.

Prudy Wiggins was stunned to hear about the allegations against Dodd. She tried to reconcile the serious accusations with the man she has considered a lifelong friend.

“I always had contact with him, and I never knew he was” an alleged molester, she said.

Wiggins said she has spoken with members of Dodd’s family who say they want nothing to do with him. When he said he wanted to be buried in the family plot, one family member supposedly replied: “Why tell us? We’re not going to be there for you,” Wiggins said.

Attempts to interview Dodd’s brothers were unsuccessful. Clemson Dodd Jr. declined to speak with a reporter, and Timothy Dodd’s wife said he also did not want to speak. Thomas Dodd lives out of state; messages left at his listed telephone number were not returned.

• • • • •

Sexton and Sevigny, the men who traveled to Florida with Dodd in the ’90s, said they saw Dodd last summer when he was in Maine.

Sexton said he installed a satellite dish on Dodd’s RV. Sevigny said Dodd hired him to pressure-wash some family gravestones.

That was months before new sex abuse allegations against Dodd emerged. Sexton and Sevigny said nothing seemed out of the ordinary with Dodd. They say they are troubled by the accusations and want to see justice served.

“What really bothers me about this whole thing now is that, if you look at the timeline, this trip (to Florida) was around the time he was (allegedly) doing stuff with kids,” Sexton said. “If he did what they say he did, he’ll get what he’s getting.”