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 fifteen 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.
In December 2022, Horowitz Law filed a civil lawsuit against the Diocese of Portland on behalf of Ann Allen, who alleges she was abused by Sabatino in approximately 1964 while he was assigned to St. Peter parish in Portland’s Munjoy Hill neighborhood. At the time, Sabatino was operating a parish youth group for girls called Soldality, which was also know as St. Theresa Girls.
Following the filing of the Allen lawsuit, six more women came forward to Horowitz Law alleging they were sexually abused by Sabatino at St. Peter and St. Patrick parishes between 1958 and 1968. Attorney Jessica Arbour announced the filing of the six new lawsuits in a news conference with attorney Michael Bigos of Berman & Simmons in March 2023. Horowitz Law now represents a total of seven women who say they were sexually abused by Sabatino in cases pending in Cumberland County Superior Court.
Fr. Lawrence Sabatino died in 1990.
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.