Representing Survivors of Child & Adult Clergy Abuse

If you or someone you love were sexually abused by a member of the Catholic clergy in Maine, you may be entitled to compensation.

Thanks to a growing number of legal filings against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, we now know that clergy sex abuse has been a decades-long problem in Maine Catholic Churches, and that Church officials overwhelmingly failed to stop abusive priests and protect victims. And while the Portland Diocese is now waging an attack on laws that give child sexual abuse victims the right to file lawsuits against the institutions that failed to protect them, survivors continue to step forward to seek justice.

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Maine’s Child Sexual Abuse Laws Are Being Challenged by the Church

Maine has passed several important legislative amendments to bolster the rights of childhood sexual abuse survivors. This includes.

  • A 2000 law that indefinitely extended the state’s statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse, giving those who were abused as minors an unlimited amount of time to file civil lawsuits.
  • A 2021 law that retroactively lifted the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits based on childhood sexual abuse, giving survivors with previously barred claims the right to file lawsuits.

Maine’s 2021 law was viewed as a victory by advocates who say that the law passed in 2000, though well intentioned, failed to address the rights of survivors with claims where the statute of limitations was already expired. By retroactively lifting the statute of limitations for all childhood sexual abuse claims, it gives survivors the right to file lawsuits against their abusers and the institutions that failed to protect them no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, which serves all of Maine, has faced a growing number of civil lawsuits since the 2021 law took effect. In fact, the lawsuits have posed such a threat to the Diocese that it has raised legal challenges arguing that the new law is unconstitutional and that survivors should only be able to file claims against the priests and church employees (many of whom are now dead) who committed the abuse. That challenge will soon head to the Maine Supreme Court.

While the Portland Diocese is working tirelessly to protect itself from the growing liabilities it now faces, the fact remains that the law giving child sexual abuse survivors a new chance for justice is still in effect. This means that if you were sexually abused by a priest of other church member in Maine at any time in the past, you have the right to take legal action.

Our sexual abuse team at Levy Konigsberg is closely tracking the Maine Supreme Court case and is available to discuss your rights and legal options during a consultation.

We specialize in sexual abuse lawsuits against powerful institutions, including prisons, clergy, and juvenile detention centers.

We work on contingency, which means there’s no cost to hire and no fee unless we win.

Legal Filings Detail Dark History of Sexual Abuse in Maine Catholic Churches

Legal filings that have poured in after the passing of the latest child sexual abuse law, as well as high-profile cases and settlements from years prior, have revealed alarming claims about the scope of child sexual abuse within Maine Catholic Churches and how Church officials failed for decades to report abusive priests and protect victims. Some examples include:

  • In August 2023, six men filed suit against the Portland Diocese alleging that they were sexually abused as children between 1954 and 1988 and that Church leaders went to great lengths to conceal the abuse, often by reassigning priests to different parishes. The suits include allegations against Rev. John Harris over abuse that occurred at the Rumford Boys’ Home, Rev. John Audibert of St. Catherine Church in Washburn, Rev. Maurice Plourd of St. Rose of Lima in Chisholm, Rev. Clement Thibodeau of the Notre Dame Institute in Alfred, and Rev. Antonio Girardin, who worked in Pittsfield, South Berwick, and Millinocket, and the Healy Asylum in Lewiston.
  • In April 2023, four members of the Penobscot Nation filed lawsuits over claims that they were sexually abused as children by priests at St. Ann Church in the 1970s and 1980s. Priests named in the lawsuits include Rev. David Paul Cote, who worked at St. Ann in the mid to late 1970s and eight other Maine parishes over the course of 45 years, Rev. Leo James Michaud, and Rev. Marcel Robitaille, who was previously accused of sexual abuse and removed from ministry.
  • In March 2023, six survivors filed suit against the Portland Diocese over claims that they were sexually abused by Father Lawrence Sabatino between 1958 and 1967 and that the Church failed to warn the victims and their families about allegations against the priest.
  • In December 2022, two survivors filed lawsuits against the Portland Diocese over sexual abuse that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s in Bangor. The suits included claims from one survivor who was sexually abused at the age of nine by Rev. Monsignor Edward Ward at Saint Mary Church and another who was abused by Sister Mary Geraldine Walsh at St. John Parochial School.
  • In December 2022, three lawsuits filed against the Portland Diocese included claims from survivors who were sexually abused by two Cumberland County Priests. Two of the survivors were abused by Rev. Michael L. Plourde while serving as altar boys at St. Hyacinth Church in Westbrook in the late 1970s, while the other was abused Rev. J. Raymond Lauzon, a priest at St. Joseph Church in Portland. Plourde and Lauzon have both been accused of abusing multiple victims.
  • In August 2016, prior to the state retroactively lifting the child sex abuse statute of limitations, the Portland Diocese agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by six men who accused Church officials of concealing sex abuse allegations against a former priest. All the men were abused as children by Rev. James Vallely.

There have already been more than 100 lawsuits filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland since the state retroactively lifted the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse but given evidence of rampant abuse and the Church’s efforts to conceal allegations and protect priests by moving them from parish to parish, many more survivors are expected to step forward.

Do I Have a Case?

You may have grounds to file a civil legal action if:

  • You were sexually abused by a priest, church volunteer, or other clergy member.
  • The abuse occurred anywhere in Maine.

At Levy Konigsberg, we support survivors in civil actions that aim to hold the Catholic Church accountable for its failures to stop abusive priests and protect victims. These civil claims are separate from any criminal proceedings and focus on holding the Church liable for damages. This means that you may still have a claim even if:

  • Your abuser is no longer alive.
  • Your abuser was never charged or convicted of a crime.

Recoverable Damages in Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Claims

In addition to accountability and providing the sense of justice survivors deserve, civil sex abuse lawsuits allow survivors to recover financial compensation for their damages, which may include:

  • Past medical and mental health expenses
  • Future mental health expenses, including therapy, medications, etc.
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish and psychological harm
  • Lost income
  • Other economic and non-economic damages

Trust Levy Konigsberg's Legal Team for Proven Results in Sexual Abuse and Negligence Cases

Levy Konigsberg LLP, a nationally recognized law firm, has built a legacy over three decades, recovering over $3 billion in sexual abuse compensation for clients. Led by award-winning sexual abuse lawyers, we specialize in representing survivors in sexual abuse across the country, taking on powerful institutions. Our top-rated trial practice handles all types of sexual abuse or negligence cases, showcasing numerous testimonials and successful case results. You can learn more about our latest sexual abuse work on our blog.

FREE Consultations for Victims of Michigan Youth Residential Treatment and Juvenile Detention Sexual Abuse

Contact us today at (800) 315-3806 or email to discuss your case with our experienced legal team.


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