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  Ex-Portland Priest Faces New Sexual Allegations
A 31-Year-Old Man Claims in a Suit That the Priest Began Having Sex with Him at the Age of 10

By Jason Wolfe
Portland Press Herald (Maine)
February 21, 1997

A Roman Catholic priest once devoted to helping Portland's needy faces new allegations that he sexually molested a child in a church-run thrift shop more than a decade ago.

David Simard, 31, claims in a civil lawsuit that the Rev. Raymond J. Lauzon took him under his wing, showered him with money, gifts, food and clothing and, at age 10, began having sex with him.

The sexual abuse continued for about six years, according to Simard, who now lives in South Berwick.

Simard's suit is the second against the priest. In 1995, four brothers detailed a similar pattern of sexual abuse during the same time period. Lauzon, 71, now teaches religion in a college in Lithuania as a member of a Franciscan monastery in Kennebunk.

Lauzon has denied the allegations lodged by Anthony, Joseph, Charles and Robert Matthews Jr., all now adults living in the Portland area.

Both suits also name the Diocese of Portland, claiming high-level officials knew or should have known about Lauzon's sexual proclivities but did nothing to stop him or protect and help the victims.

Church officials have denied the allegations contained in the Matthews' suit. The attorney for the church could not be reached Thursday for comment about the new lawsuit.

Simard and the Matthews brothers attribute problems in their adult life, including mental illness, to abuse by Lauzon, which they say ended in 1984. The amount of damages sought in the two lawsuits has not been disclosed.

The Matthews case could go to trial late this summer, said Kenneth Clegg, a Sanford lawyer who represents Simard as well.

"This is bad stuff that this guy did," Clegg said. "It's really hard for me to exaggerate. To a person, they're messed up. Drugs, alcohol, emotional problems. Father Lauzon really screwed them up, yet the church is unwilling to take responsibility for that."

Lauzon, who ran St. Joseph the Provider for many years, faced similar sexual abuse allegations in criminal court a decade ago. The charges involved Anthony and Joseph Matthews.

In a highly publicized case, Lauzon and two other men - Raymond A. Quinn and Raymond W. Demers, an arcade owner - were indicted in connection with an alleged pedophile ring.

But the sex charges were later dismissed in exchange for Lauzon's guilty plea to a charge of tampering with a witness. During the investigation, he persuaded one of the boys to recant. He served a six-month jail sentence and left Portland.

Lauzon maintained his innocence in the criminal case. Church officials, too, continue to stand behind him, just as they did when he faced criminal charges.

The church is fighting the Matthews' lawsuit by portraying the plaintiffs as street kids from a poor family who are making false allegations to destroy the man who tried to help them, according to court records.

At least two witnesses, including Quinn, who are not named in either of the lawsuits, have given statements alleging Lauzon had sex with them when they were adolescents, according to court and police records.

According to the lawsuits, Lauzon had sex with the boys at the Exchange Street thrift store, in the rectory of St. Dominic's Church and in vehicles.

 
 

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