Three new lawsuits filed against the Catholic Diocese of Portland

WMTW-TV, ABC-8 [Portland ME]

December 8, 2022

By Jim Keithley

The number of people who claim they were abused by Catholic priests when they were children continues to grow, including two brothers who served as altar boys at St. Hyacinth Church in Westbrook.

The lawsuit against the Diocese of Portland alleges two brothers, who were 10 and 12 years old, told their mother that the Rev. Michael Plourde sexually abused them before early morning mass at St. Hyacinth Church in the late 1970s.

The lawsuit said the mother pulled the boys out of church and reported the abuse to church leaders, and never heard another word. The family never returned.

The complaints state that the diocese removed Plourde from ministry in 1994 based on multiple allegations of sex abuse.

Lawyers for the alleged victims said Plourde is still alive and living in Cumberland County. Efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

The third case filed Thursday involves another man who said he was abused by the Rev. Raymond Lauzon in 1970 when he was 12 years old. The alleged abuse happened at St. Joseph’s Church on Stevens Avenue in Portland. The lawsuit claims Lauzon oversaw a thrift store in the basement of the church. The plaintiff said Lauzon would abuse him on a couch in the back of the room.

The lawyer representing the alleged survivors of sex abuse said there are likely 50 to 100 survivors out there. They expect to see 100 lawsuits by next summer.

“We believe there are a cluster of survivors in the Westbrook St. Hyacinth Parish area, and we want to ask members of the public and survivors if they are out there – to come forward because they may be material witnesses themselves,” said Michael Bigos of the law firm Berman & Simmons in Portland.

Bigos is asking the diocese to come clean with any and all information.

“We call on the Maine diocese to reveal all of the names and all of the dates of abuse for the priests they know about who were credibly alleged to have committed any abuse it’s time to stop hiding that,” Bigos said.

The Catholic Diocese of Portland has not responded to our requests for comment on the latest lawsuits, but a spokesperson has said in the past the diocese does not comment on pending litigation.

Bigos said discovery would need to be turned over and then depositions would need to take place and any trials wouldn’t come until at least 2024.