More sex abuse lawsuits filed against Catholic Diocese of Portland, bringing total to 11

WCSH - NBC News Center Maine [Portland ME]

December 12, 2022

By Vivien Leigh

Three men claim they were sexually abused by a deceased priest, John Curran.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Three new lawsuits were filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland in Cumberland County Superior Court on Monday. 

Three men claim the Rev. John Curran, a former priest who has since died, sexually abused them between the ages of 11 and 14 in the early 1960s. 

Eleven lawsuits have been filed seeking civil relief under a new law that removed the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse. 

The law that went into effect in 2021 lifted a statute of limitations, allowing Maine survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file a civil claim against their abusers, no matter when the abuse allegedly occurred. 

Previously, claims could only be pursued for cases dating back to 1987.

NEWS CENTER Maine is not identifying two alleged victims, but one of the plaintiffs, Andre Fortin, alleges Curran groomed him. Fortin lived across the street from St. Augustine Church, where Curran served.

Speaking by Zoom from Sherbrooke, Quebec, Fortin told NEWS CENTER Maine he believed Curran knew his family couldn’t afford to send him to a Canadian seminary and helped secure a scholarship for him. 

He alleges Curran continued to abuse him when he came home on holidays and vacations. Fortin said he has lived with this horrible secret for nearly 60 years.  

Michael Bigos of Berman & Simmons represents the alleged victims. Bigos said as many as 30 lawsuits could be filed by March of next year. 

Curran was named in a 2004 Maine Attorney General report that detailed dozens of cases of alleged sexual abuse by members of the clergy. The Diocese did not respond to our request for a statement.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call Maine’s sexual assault crisis and support line at 1-800-871-7741.