Three more people are suing the Catholic Diocese of Portland, alleging sexual abuse by an Augusta-area priest in the 1960s.

All of the lawsuits center on the Rev. John J. Curran, who allegedly abused the three victims between 1962 and 1964 when they were between the ages of 11 and 14 years old, according to a statement from their attorney, Michael Bigos.

There are now 11 cases filed against the church since lawmakers in 2021 lifted the statute of limitations on when victims of alleged abuse may file civil claims. Another lawsuit was filed last week against the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. A young “Jane Doe” living in a Catholic orphanage in Massachusetts in the 1950s said she experienced abuse on trips to Oblate-run retreats in Bar Harbor and Bucksport.

One of the new lawsuits alleges that Curran groomed Andre M. Fortin, of Quebec, who was 13 and lived across the street from St. Augustine Church. The two other plaintiffs have asked not to be named. The Press Herald does not identify victims of sexual abuse without their consent.

The Rev. John Curran performs the wedding ceremony of Roger Fortin and Joan Paradis in 1963 at St. Augustine Church in Augusta. André Fortin, the groom’s younger brother, standing to Curran’s right, filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Portland for alleged sexual abuse by Curran between 1962 and 1964. Photo contributed by the Fortin family. 

Fortin, now 73, carried for decades the shame and anger his abuse caused, and struggled to disclose the whole truth even to a therapist, he said during a Zoom call with his attorney on Monday. He said he came forward and decided to file suit when he saw in June that Bigos was representing three other men in a lawsuit that named Curran as an alleged abuser.

“I carried that with me for 60 years,” Fortin said. “So when it happened that I saw the article that came out this summer, I read that, and I tried to reach out.”


Dave Guthro, a spokesman for the diocese, did not respond Monday to a request for an interview to discuss the new allegations.

Photo of the Rev. John J. Curran that ran with an article about his death in 1976 in the Kennebec Journal.

Fortin’s complaint alleges that Curran selected Fortin as an altar boy. It was a coveted position, but it meant he had repeated close contact with Curran, who became sexually aggressive when they were alone together. Curran told Fortin that “being a priest could be lonely,” and forcibly touched and kissed Fortin inside the rectory when he was about 13 or 14.

Curran told him “not to worry,” and to “just be comfortable,” the lawsuit states. Curran was a cigar smoker, and Fortin recalled rushing home to wash the putrid taste from his mouth.

Fortin said he was later selected to train to enter the priesthood, and Curran, recognizing that Fortin’s family was experiencing economic hardship, helped Fortin secure a scholarship to a Canadian seminary and continued to abuse Fortin when he returned home on holidays and vacation, the lawsuit contends.

The Rev. John Curran is cut out of this 1963 St. Augustine eighth grade graduation photo by André Fortin, pictured here in the third row from the top, second from right. Fortin says he cut Curran out of the photo decades ago but wanted to save the remainder of the photograph. Photo contributed by the Fortin family

Fortin’s family were devout Catholics, and Fortin’s mother often encouraged him to go see the pastor when he was home from seminary. He became emotional when he said he never could tell his mother about the abuse by Curran.

To stop her from suggesting the visits, Fortin said he told his mother Curran was insulting a relative, and she stopped making him spend time with the priest.


André Fortin after his first communion at St. Augustine Church in Augusta in 1956.  Photo contributed by the Fortin family

The alleged abuse suffered by Fortin and the other two plaintiffs in Augusta immediately followed alleged abuse described in the June lawsuit, after the diocese moved Curran from his previous posting in Old Town.

The other two plaintiffs said they suffered sexual abuse by Curran, usually in the rectory or after mass, in a private area where Curran and the victims were alone.


Curran was featured in a 2004 report by the Maine Attorney General’s Office that detailed dozens of cases of alleged sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy. Curran died in 1976.

Each of the 11 lawsuits alleges that the diocese knew about past abuse, chose not to stop it and failed to warn other parishioners’ families for decades. The filings describe internal church documents, some dated as early as 1922, that prescribe rules for conducting secret tribunals for priests accused of abuse. The documents are evidence the organization knew of the abuse but did not act to stop it, the lawsuits allege.

“All of this abuse was completely preventable if they had just warned (families), if they had just shared information they knew about priests abusing children, and they failed to do that,” Bigos said.

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