Father Lawrence Sabatino
Diocese of Portland
Assigned as follows:
- 1955: Cathedral of Immaculate Conception (Portland, ME)
- 1955-1956: St. Martin of Tours (Millinocket, ME)
- 1956-1958: St. Patrick (Lewiston, ME)
- St. Dominic (Portland, ME)
- 1958-1970: St. Peter (Portland, ME)
- 1970-1974: St. Joseph (Brewer, ME)
- 1974-1978: St. Francis Xavier (Brownville Junction, ME)
- 1978-1990: St. Agnes (Pittsfield, ME)
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. Lawrence Sabatino:
Fr. Lawrence Sabatino served the Diocese of Portland for 35 years. At least fourteen women have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against Sabatino. According to a statement by a diocese spokesperson, Sabatino is the only known case in which a Maine priest continued to sexually assault children after being reported to the Diocese of Portland.
According to media reports, the first known report of child sexual abuse against Sabatino was reported in 1958. The alleged victim was a 6-year-old female student at St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Lewiston. According to statements obtained from the victim and her family, Fr. Sabatino removed the victim and her brother (2 years older than the victim) from school and took them for a drive to the Thom Craig Bird Sanctuary. Sabatino sent the brother away from the car to pick berries. When the brother returned, he found his six-year-old sister on the hood of Sabatino’s car. Sabatino was kissing her, and she was trying to push him away. The girl’s brother told Sabatino to leave his sister alone.
The next time Sabatino removed the alleged victim from school, he did not take the girl’s brother. When the brother realized that Sabatino had taken his sister from the school, he went home and told his mother. When the mother arrived at the school, she found her daughter crouched down on the floor of Sabatino’s automobile beneath the dashboard. The mother then took her daughter to the doctor’s office. The doctor found that the girl had vaginal bruising and swelling. The mother then reported the suspected abuse and the doctor’s findings to the Lewiston police. The police took no action, and an officer told the mother that she would have to report the abuse to Bishop Daniel Feeney. When the family went to the bishop’s office the next day, they were told that Fr. Sabatino would be monitored and kept away from children. The Diocese of Portland then transferred Sabatino to St. Peter in Portland.
Once established at St. Peter, Sabatino began inviting young girls to an after-school program called Sodality where he would abuse them. According to documents released by the Maine Attorney General’s Office in 2005, Fr. Sabatino is accused of abusing twelve more minor females while he was assigned to St. Peter, between 1958-1970. The alleged victims range in age from 6-17. Many of the victims reported being abused during games of hide and seek in the basement of the parish hall. Fr. Sabatino would pick one girl to hide with him and abuse her when they were alone. Alleged victims were also abused on field trips to the woods and to the beach. The victims report similar patterns of abuse: touching, rubbing, grinding, and in some instances, digital penetration.
According to media reports, in March 2002, the Diocese of Portland received an allegation of child sexual abuse in 1972 against Fr. Sabatino. The alleged victim was a female minor between 7-8 years-old, and the alleged abuse occurred when Fr. Sabatino was assigned to St. Joseph in Brewer, ME. The Diocese of Portland did not provide details regarding the nature of the alleged abuse.
Fr. Lawrence Sabatino died in 1990.
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