Maine Diocese Settles Lawsuit
Payment Covers Cost of Therapy
Associated Press, carried in MaineToday.com [Portland ME]
October 28, 2004
PORTLAND, Maine — Maine's Roman Catholic diocese said Thursday it has paid $370 (Canadian) to settle a small claims lawsuit filed by a Biddeford native who, as a child, was sexually abused by a priest.
The claim follows a payment of $700 (Canadian) to David Gagnon, who now lives in Ottawa. Both payments were for coverage of a therapy called Jin Shin Do, described as an acupressure treatment for chronic tension.
In its announcement, the Diocese of Portland said it has been working to develop treatment guidelines for abuse victims.
The goal, it said, is to facilitate payments for appropriate treatment, preserve victims' privacy rights and allow some fiscal oversight through a pre-authorization process that would evaluate the effectiveness of treatment options.
The new policy, which takes into account concerns raised by Gagnon, will incorporate a neutral, independent third party to review requests for adjunct therapy, according to the diocese.
Gagnon, 39, was abused more than two decades ago by Michael Doucette, who was then pastor at St. Andre's Church in Biddeford. Through his lawyer, Gagnon negotiated a monetary settlement with the diocese and Doucette in 1993.
Speaking from Canada, Gagnon said Thursday that he ended his therapy last spring because of the diocese's failure to pay.
He said he hopes the diocese will continue pay in the future so he doesn't have to bring additional court claims. He said he was disturbed because the bishop has not acknowledged responsibility to pay for therapy.
"All I'm simply asking them to do is to continue to hold up to their responsibility to continue to pay what they're supposed to pay," he said.
The diocese said Thursday that Bishop Richard Malone and Doucette have released Gagnon from the confidentiality obligation imposed by the settlement.
While confidentiality was typically included in settlements made at that time, it is no longer an aspect of such cases unless requested by the victim, the diocese said.
"It is my hope that the payment of the therapy bill and the release from the confidentiality agreement are helpful to David's healing," Malone said. "And with the help of victims' advocates, I look forward to the implementation of the new therapeutic guidelines which will serve all victim/survivors fairly and effectively."
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