A former University of Southern Maine men’s hockey coach is suing the University of Maine System, saying he was forced into taking an early retirement early last year based on an anonymous false claim of sexual harassment that was lodged against him.

The former coach, Jeffrey Beaney of Scarborough, filed the civil complaint in October, naming as defendants the University of Maine System, Chancellor James H. Page and former USM President David Flanagan, who retired in July 2015.

In their response to his lawsuit, the defendants acknowledged that there was no basis for the accusations of misconduct against Beaney.

Beaney had served as a coach at USM for nearly three decades. He has since been hired as the head coach of the Portland/Deering High School boys’ hockey team.

In his lawsuit, Beaney said that to induce him to take early retirement, agents of the defendants “falsely represented the nature of the benefits he would receive” as a result of doing so. He also said the agents tried to coerce him into signing a release of his claims in exchange for an assurance that the defendants would not revoke a tuition waiver for his son. He said he refused to do so.

Beaney said the defendants subsequently revoked the tuition waiver, a claim that the defendants denied in their answer to his lawsuit.


Among the allegations made by Beaney are that his rights to a due process hearing were violated and that he suffered “severe emotional distress.”

The lawsuit was initially filed in Cumberland County Superior Court by Beaney’s attorney, Edward S. MacColl of Portland, but has since been moved to U.S. District Court.

Beaney declined to comment Tuesday on the matter, referring all questions to MacColl, who did not return a message left at his office Tuesday afternoon.

Beaney’s lawsuit seeks punitive damages but does not specify an amount.

“Defendants’ actions were so extreme and outrageous as to exceed all possible bounds of decency and must be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” MacColl wrote in the court complaint.

The University of Maine System and the other defendants filed a response in court last week asking that the charges be dismissed.


“When the facts do come out in this case, it will be become clear that the university did not violate any of his rights and that we did not falsely induce him to retire,” Patricia A. Peard, the Portland lawyer who is representing the University of Maine System, Page and Flanagan, said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

In an amended court complaint filed Oct. 26, Beaney said he was employed by USM’s hockey program in 1985 and served as its full-time hockey coach and a lecturer from 2004 until he was “unlawfully terminated” on or about Jan. 2, 2015.

According to his lawsuit, the university informed Beaney in November 2014 that it had received an anonymous letter containing accusations of “inappropriate behavior by members of the men’s ice hockey coaching staff, constituting violations of the defendants’ sexual harassment policies.”

In his complaint, Beaney said that “even though the alleged anonymous letter failed to name any individual coach or coaches,” the defendants “had either already substantiated from an independent investigation, or expected the independent investigation to imminently establish, that he was personally guilty of the accusations set forth in the anonymous letter.”

Beaney maintained in his lawsuit that the allegations about inappropriate behavior were “entirely false.”

He also alleged the university told him his employment might be terminated for cause on the basis of the alleged accusations and that, “in such event, he would lose health, retirement and other benefits, including a tuition waiver for his son, and would suffer public humiliation.”


“Even though the alleged accusations against the Plaintiff were utterly false, Defendants forced (Beaney) to accept early retirement in order to protect the immediate financial well being of his family,” his lawsuit said.

It was only after he was forced to retire that Beaney was informed there was no basis for any of the accusations against him, according to the lawsuit.

In its answer to Beaney’s complaint filed last week by the University of Maine System, the defendants “admit that the internal investigation conducted by the University found that there was no basis to believe that Mr. Beaney engaged in the anonymous alleged misconduct.”

“The defendants deny the allegation that Mr. Beaney was unlawfully terminated,” Peard said in the defendants’ response to the lawsuit.



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