Angry, 'Troubled Soul'

By Christopher Williams
Sun Journal
November 30, 2006

Auburn - A retired priest told police he was unhappy with the woman who accused Lewiston's Mayor Lionel Guay of groping her.

So, shortly after Guay was acquitted on all charges of unlawful sexual touching and assault, the priest sent Danielle Ramon two mailings taking her to task for making the allegations.

In his missives, the Rev. Bertrand Poussard, 64, of Waterville, called Ramon "ugly" and a "bitch." He insinuated that she was fat and a lesbian. He sent her copies of newspaper clippings about the trial, underlining text and making written asides directed at her in the margins.

When interviewed by police, Poussard was contrite.

Auburn police Lt. Jason Moen, chief of detectives, said the case cracked open when diocesean officials passed along information from a source suggesting that Poussard might be responsible for the mailings. Church officials provided samples of Poussard's writing that police compared to the letters mailed to Ramon, of Auburn, Guay's accuser. The similarities prompted police to interview Poussard.

He was cooperative and "quite remorseful" for having sent the clips and letter, Moen said. Poussard told police he knew Guay from growing up in Lewiston. "He was unhappy with the case and decided to express his feelings," Moen said.

Contacted by phone Wednesday, Guay confirmed that he and Poussard had been friends, but the mayor hadn't seen Poussard "in a long time."

Guay announced earlier this week that he was resigning as mayor as of Friday. He cited stress on himself and his family resulting from the sexual touching case.

Local police issued a cease harassment notice Tuesday to Poussard. The notice is only a warning, Moen said. If Poussard engages in any further course of conduct that could be harassing, including writing letters to Ramon or harassing her by phone, he could be charged with the class E misdemeanor of harassment, Moen said. He said he didn't know if Poussard had a criminal record or prior written warnings.

Ramon's mother, Debra, said Wednesday the family was overwhelmed and wasn't commenting immediately.

Bishop Richard Malone, who heads Portland Diocese, had much to say.

"This is not behavior that is acceptable by any priest or any Christian," he said Wednesday in a written release.

Malone said the letters were "hurtful and I am sorry for any harm caused. This was obviously the work of a troubled soul."

He said he planned to bar Poussard from officiating at public Mass in Androscoggin County for "a period of time." He also required "personal remedial action" from Poussard, but declined to give details.

Malone called the Ramon family Wednesday to apologize for Poussard's actions.

Poussard said he met Wednesday with Malone, who instructed him not to say anything.

Poussard was born in Lewiston and ordained in 1967. He served at parishes in Skowhegan, Waterville, Westbrook, Biddeford, Portland, Wells and Auburn. He served as chaplain at St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston until 2000, when he took medical leave. He officially retired in February, 2004.

A diocese secretary said Poussard's name was not on any lists of retired priests on call to fill in for official Diocesean duties.

But published report from earlier this month in the Sun Journal said Poussard was assisting a reverend who was officiating at a burial Mass in Lewiston.

Reacting to Poussard's written warning, a spokesman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests or SNAP said Poussard should be criminally charged.

"It's always hard for victims of sex crimes to come forward," said National Director David Clohessy of St. Louis. "It's even tougher when they're met with harassment."


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