BIDDEFORD, Maine — In an ongoing slew of allegations, a new case filed this week in U.S. District Court alleges a former Biddeford police officer sexually abused a teenage boy nearly 30 years ago and that the city and Police Department turned a blind eye to the abuse.
This is the fourth lawsuit filed against former Biddeford police officers, Police Chief Roger Beaupre and the city in the past two years, involving two officers and four alleged victims who claim to have been abused by the officers as minors.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, asserts former officer Norman Gaudette sexually assaulted then-resident Scott Frechette around 1990 when Frechette was 17 years old.
“Norman Gaudette used his power and authority as a law enforcement officer to secure Frechette’s trust to sexually abuse him and to ensure Frechette’s silence about his abuse,” the complaint reads.
According to court documents, Gaudette approached Frechette when he learned Frechette was having troubles at home and needed a place to stay. Gaudette then offered to purchase a hotel room for Frechette — supposedly with Police Department money — and Frechette accepted.
Gaudette brought Frechette to the Sleepy Hollow Motel in Biddeford, according to court documents, and accompanied him inside, where he allegedly forced manual, oral and other sexual acts upon Frechette, and then forced Frechette to return the same acts.
This is not the first sexual abuse allegation against Gaudette. In 2015, a similar lawsuit was filed by Lawrence “Larry” Ouellette of Biddeford, who claims to have been assaulted by Gaudette in the 1980s when Ouellette was 15 years old.
The city claims that Beaupre launched an investigation into that complaint near the time the alleged abuse occurred but had no involvement, instead referring the case to the Maine Attorney General’s Office and placing Gaudette on administrative leave. Gaudette was not indicted in that case, and the city and Beaupre deny negligent supervision.
This second complaint against Gaudette also comes as two sexual abuse cases, claiming similar circumstances, have been filed against former BPD officer Stephen Dodd in 2015.
Frechette, who now resides in Florida, claims to have suffered severe psychological damages, post-traumatic stress disorder, pain and suffering, humiliation and embarrassment, lost wages and permanent impairment as a result of the alleged abuse by Gaudette.
He is seeking damages against Gaudette, plus the city of Biddeford and Biddeford Police Department (referred to as the “municipal defendants”), for failure to conduct sufficient training or supervision, failing to adequately punish acts of sexual abuse and, “failing to properly or neutrally investigate citizen complaints of sexual abuse of minors.”
Gene Libby, attorney for Gaudette, criticized the lawsuit in a prepared statement on Thursday.
“The second complaint against Gaudette is an underhanded, abusive move by Plaintiff’s counsel to rescue the two current legal cases against the City and Gaudette, which are failing and likely to fail,” he said.
Libby, of Libby, O’Brien, Kingsley & Champion, said Frechette failed to show up to a deposition on Jan. 31 in relation to another lawsuit against Gaudette, and Frechette’s entry into a new lawsuit as a plaintiff raises questions.
According to Libby, Frechette appeared before a York County grand jury on April 4, 1991, during which the grand jury found no probable cause to indict Gaudette. Gaudette also passed a polygraph test when he denied sexual contact with Frechette, and Frechette also signed a written recantation of his allegations, stating Gaudette had not touched him, Libby said.
“Scott Frechette has already had his day in court and was not believed,” he said. “The grand jury did not find probable cause to believe that a crime had been committed by Norman Gaudette. There was good reason for that.”
Walter McKee, attorney for Gaudette, said Frechette did not show up for the deposition in Florida because he and his then-lawyer decided it was the best course of action at the time, and that Frechette only wrote his initial recantation because he was, “threatened and made promises by the people who solicited that recantation.”
“Representatives of Norman Gaudette threatened him and made promises if he would write out that it did not happen,” McKee said, declining to name the alleged individuals. “Those threats were reported to the Attorney General’s Office.”
McKee also said Frechette’s case is similar to others issued against Gaudette and Dodd, and that he believes the case will hold up in court.
“(Frechette’s) descriptions about what happened are remarkably similar to those of other victims that we’ve talked to who were abused by Norman Gaudette, yet they had no connection to each other,” McKee said.
Libby declined to speak further on the details of the case, citing legal reasons.
“While we cannot discuss the gaping holes in the current legal cases pending against Gaudette and the City of Biddeford, the Gaudette family is again being victimized by allegations which have no basis in fact or law,” Libby said.
Keith Jacques, attorney for the city of Biddeford, said in a prepared statement on Thursday afternoon that the city became aware that the city and its citizens were named as defendents in the lawsuit through media inquiries.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Frechette’s attorney elected to provide the media with the complaint before providing a copy to the City,” Jacques said. “The City, therefore, cannot comment on the substance of the Complaint. The City will vigorously defend and protect its citizens and taxpayers against the allegations.”