Father Thomas Lee
Diocese of Portland
Removed from ministry: 2003
- 1953-1955: St. Martin of Tours (Millinocket, ME)
- 1955-1971: Boys’ Training and Men’s Correctional Center (ME)
- 1971-1985: Our Lady Queen of Peace (Boothbay, ME)
- 1977-1985: St. Mary (Bath, ME)
- 1985-2003: St. Phillip (Lyman, ME)
- Chaplain at Mercy Hospital (Portland, ME)
- Chaplain at Maine Medical Center (Portland, ME)
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Fr. Thomas Lee:
Fr. Thomas Lee was ordained a priest in 1953 and served in multiple parishes in the Diocese of Portland. According to media reports, in 2002, a mother alleged that her son had been sexually abused by Fr. Lee when he was assigned to Our Lady Queen of Peace in Boothbay. The diocese claimed it could not substantiate the allegation because a “secondhand” source reported it and subsequently closed the investigation. The victim’s mother refuted that claim and said her son had scheduled a meeting with the diocese investigator. When the investigator failed to show up, the alleged victim became frustrated and decided not to pursue the matter.
In 2003, the Diocese of Portland reopened its investigation into Fr. Lee citing two more allegations of sexual abuse. The diocese did not disclose information about the age/gender of his alleged victim/victims and the nature of these allegations. Bishop Gerry forwarded the case to the Vatican in 2004.
A lawsuit was filed against the Diocese of Portland in 2005 by a woman who claimed that Fr. Lee molested her son from 1977-1979, beginning when the boy was three years old. The woman’s mother was a housekeeper at the rectory of Our Lady Queen of Peace, and she would bring her son to the rectory to visit and wait for her mother to finish work. According to the mother, Fr. Lee asked the mother if he could take the boy into his office, where he repeatedly molested him. The mother also claimed that Fr. Lee abused other children at his sister’s cottage on Sebago Lake and other locations. The lawsuit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
The Vatican authorized the establishment of a church tribunal in 2006 to determine whether the allegations of sexual abuse against Fr. Thomas Lee were credible. In 2008, the tribunal ruled that it could not substantiate the accusations; however, it did find Lee’s actions “imprudent.” Bishop Malone appealed the ruling and expressed frustration with the lengthiness of the process.
In 2009, the Diocese of Portland released a statement that it had received credible allegations of child sexual abuse in the 1980s against Fr. Thomas Lee from 14 victims from the Boothbay area. The abuse included inappropriate touching and privacy violations. Media reports suggest that much of the alleged abuse occurred during overnight trips to a cottage on Sebago Lake. At the cottage, Fr. Lee would play strip poker with 10-12-year-old victims after playing them with alcohol. He would also instruct the victims to play naked games of “flashlight tag” and subject them to massages with baby powder.
In 2011, a church appeals court upheld the decision of the 2008 tribunal stating that it could not substantiate allegations of sexual abuse against Fr. Lee; however, the Diocese of Portland continued to restrict Lee’s ministry. Fr. Lee’s current whereabouts are unknown.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Portland in Maine. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Maine, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Portland now have legal options, but filing deadlines may apply, so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Maine and nationwide. We can help.