Boothbay Harbor Mother Files Suit against Priest

By Joshua L. Weinstein
Portland Press-Herald [Boothbay Harbor ME]
January 11, 2005

A Boothbay Harbor woman has filed a lawsuit against a Roman Catholic priest who she says molested her son from the time the boy was 3 years old until he was 5.

The priest, the Rev. Thomas Lee, has denied the accusation to Our Lady Queen of Peace parish in Boothbay Harbor and to the Diocese of Portland.

Lee voluntarily stepped down in 2002 while the diocese conducted an investigation into allegations he sexually abused the boy. He returned to a church in Lyman after the investigation was unable to substantiate the claim but stepped down again in 2003 after new allegations of misconduct with minors arose.

Lee, who now lives in Portland, declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday.

The lawsuit, filed in Cumberland County Superior Court, claims that the woman's mother was a housekeeper at the church rectory and that the woman visited there about three times a week to wait for her mother to finish work.

It claims that between 1977 and 1979, the woman took her son to the church with her.

During those times, the lawsuit says, Lee asked if he could take the boy into his office, where he would molest the child.

The lawsuit says the woman's son, now 30, did not say anything earlier "because of personal reasons including profound shame, embarrassment, and psychological torment."

The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram is not naming the woman because doing so would identify her son, who is the victim of an alleged sex crime. The son has not filed a lawsuit. The criminal statute of limitations has expired, which means prosecutors cannot pursue the case.

Sue Bernard, the church's spokeswoman, said she was aware of the lawsuit, but that she could not comment because she has not seen it.

The woman's attorney, Mark L. Randall of the McCardle Law Firm in Portland, said that "this is one parent's effort to have the church recognize that the families are victims, too."

The lawsuit alleges breach of trust, breach of fiduciary duty, vicarious liability and fraud.

It does not ask for a specific dollar amount, because under Maine law, plaintiffs in such cases may not make such requests. The amount of money - if any - is determined by the jury.


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