WGME-TV, CBS affiliate [Portland ME]
June 16, 2022
New sexual abuse lawsuits filed against Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland
New sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed against the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland, claiming the diocese knew of the abuse but did nothing about it.
The three men filing suit against the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland say they were groomed and sexually abused as children by clergy members or others associated with the diocese in Maine.
“The survivors coming forward this week have lived with the effects of their abuse for decades,” Attorney Mike Bigos said.
Bigos says when his clients were boys, attending Catholic churches with their families in Biddeford, Westbrook and Old Town, priests sexually abused them.
One even says he was abused by two priests and a lay educator.
“We believe and we expect to prove that the Maine Diocese knew about abuse in the Catholic Church generally, and in Maine, after 1922,” Bigos said.
He says 100 years ago, the Vatican issued a canon law asking priests to never solicit sexual contact during confession or other pastoral responsibilities.
He says that law had three major flaws.
“It was designed to protect priests and not children,” Bigos said. “They kept it secret, and they didn’t disclose it to their parishioners so they could protect themselves.”
Bigos says in several cases of alleged sexual abuse in Maine Catholic churches, the Portland Diocese has written letters of apology and compassion to his clients.
“We think that they were well aware of the problem, knew about the seriousness of the problem and did far too little to address the problem,” Bigos said.
The average age of sexual abuse victims coming forward is 52, about the age of two of the defendants who are now able to file suit, after a new Maine law removed the statute of limitations on abuse lawsuits.
“These claims allow them to come forward now that they have the confidence and legal ability to do so,” Bigos said. “We think that there will be several depositions, so we learn what the church knew and when they knew it.”
CBS13 reached out to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland but was told the diocese doesn’t comment on pending litigation.