Woman plans to sue Portland’s Catholic Diocese for failing to stop known abuser in 1960s

The Portland Press Herald [Portland ME]

December 1, 2022

By Emily Allen

Rev. Lawrence Sabatino was one of nine priests publicly identified by the Catholic Church in 2005 for abusing children, 15 years after his death.

A woman is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland alleging a former Catholic priest sexually abused her in the 1960s.

Ann Allen is suing the diocese for civil damages saying the church failed to stop the abuse or warn parishioners about the allegations that began in 1958, according to Allen’s attorneys. Allen said she endured sexual abuse from Rev. Lawrence Sabatino at St. Peter Parish in Portland during the 1960s. Sabatino died in 1990. The church publicly acknowledged he was a sexual abuser in 2005, along with eight other priests, following an investigation by the Maine State Attorney General.

Allen is the latest Mainer to sue someone for abuse since changes to state law in 2021 that eliminated time barriers for survivors seeking civil action.

Her attorney, Michael Bigos, is also representing three men who have filed similar lawsuits since the law changed. They announced their lawsuits in March, related to abuse that they say occurred in churches across the state during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Bigos said he will be filing the complaint, which outlines Sabatino’s history of abusing children as early as 1958,  in Cumberland County Superior Court, according to a news release. Sabatino was a priest in seven different parishes from the 1950s to the 1990s. The church was made aware of the abuse, Bigos says, and they failed to warn and protect parishioners.

Sabatino led congregations in Portland, Millinocket, Lewiston, Brewer, Brownville and Pittsfield.

This story will be updated.