Maine Ranks as One of the Top Destinations that Predators Take Kids to Abuse Them

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2022 | Firm News

Clergy Sex Abuse in Maine Horowitz Law

Although Maine is considered to be a prime tourist attraction, there are many Americans that disagree. Some think Maine may be too small, largely rural, not easy to get to, and lacks exciting big cities. Still, it’s full of gorgeous scenery, stunning lakes, and picturesque seashores. That’s why many New Englanders vacation in Maine. And tragically, that’s at least one reason a disproportionate number of child molesting clerics, mostly from nearby states, have taken kids there to abuse them. Maine’s Diocese of Portland has faced multiple clergy abuse allegations in the past two decades. Pedophiles find the state’s remoteness an appealing feature too. Consider just these few examples.

  • Fr. Richard Degagne of the Diocese of Fall River, MA: Degagne recently was sued for allegedly abusing a Massachusetts boy during an overnight trip to Maine.
  • Fr. Paul J. Doherty, also from the Diocese of Worcester, MA: Doherty admitted he had ‘inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor’ to his bishop. He later retired to Maine and was named an advisory board member to the University of Southern Maine Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
  • Fr. Robert J. Knapp of the Archdiocese of Boston: Knapp’s personnel file revealed “a father-son” relationship with a child, sexual misconduct with three women, and “hundreds of incidents” with a victim between 1979 and 1984. Decades later, while living in Maine, he was finally defrocked.
  • Fr. John W. Lennon, a Maryknoll of the Archdiocese of New York, allegedly fondled a student during trips to Maine. He was later defrocked and included in the New York archdiocesan list of ‘clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor.’
  • Fr. Arthur P. Craig, an Oblate priest, has recently been sued for child sex abuse. A woman says he brought her to Maine from the Massachusetts orphanage where she was living and molested her along with other priests. 
  • Fr. Eugene Descombes of the Archdiocese of Quebec has recently been sued for allegedly molesting a child in Maine, an accusation deemed ‘substantiated’ by a church panel.
  • Fr. Harvey Lamothe of the Diocese of Manchester, NH, lived in Maine. At least one case against him and Lamothe was included in a 2002 $ 5 million settlement with 62 people claiming abuse by 28 priests and others. 
  • Fr. Roy A. Drake, a Jesuit of the Archdiocese of New York, is accused of molesting kids at the Maine Maritime Academy in Portland and elsewhere (primarily in New York and Ohio). His frequent transfers are, on their face, suspicious and reminiscent of notorious Jesuit predator Fr. Donald McGuire. Drake worked or lived in Boston, Seattle, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Syracuse, Washington, St. Loius, and Cleveland. Like McGuire, Drake gave hundreds of workshops and retreats in the US and internationally. 

Why are these names important?

Because the Portland, Maine Diocese is one of just a few in the US that still refuses, 20 years after pledging to be ‘open and transparent’ about abuse, to disclose predators’ identities on its website. And because legislative reforms by the state legislature give child sex abuse survivors who were hurt in Maine much greater opportunities to seek justice in court and win compensation for decades of suffering. The travel and transfers work both ways, of course: some Maine clerics are accused of assaulting kids elsewhere: Br. Paul L. Gauvin hails from Maine but was working at a Connecticut parish (Sacred Heart in Bloomfield) when he was suspended after being accused of child sexual abuse. Fr. Maurice T. Lebel, a Jesuit from the Diocese of Fall River, MA. He left the order and became a priest of the Diocese of Maine, where he stayed active until he was put on leave in 2007 pending an investigation of allegations that he sexually abused a child.

Other credibly accused child molesting clerics who worked in Maine were also sent out-of-state (though it’s not clear where their alleged offenses took place): 

  1. Fr. Joseph Dooley, a Jesuit, spent time in Massachusetts.
  2. Fr. Armand J. Thibault, a Marianist and Sacred Heart cleric, also spent time in Massachusetts.
  3. Fr. James P. Vallely spent time in Oregon.
  4. Br. Shawn McEnany of the Sacred Heart order spent time in New Hampshire.
  5. Bishop Robert Deeley has headed the Diocese of Portland, Maine, for almost a decade. He’s had plenty of time to honor his promises – and the promises of all US bishops and, indeed, of Pope Francis himself, to ‘come clean’ about abuse and abusers.

We at Horowitz Law suspect one of his motives for keeping secrets is extremely self-serving: he wants to reduce the number of survivors who file lawsuits against his diocese for horrific child sex crimes and cover-ups. So please consider circulating this blog. Let’s not allow Bishop Deeley to profit from his continued complicity in this crisis. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures and other clergy. If you need a lawyer because a member of a religious organization sexually abused you, please get in touch with our law firm at 888-283-9922 or send an email to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected]Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.