Six Women File Lawsuits Against Portland Roman Catholic Bishop


The Late Rev. Lawrence Sabatino Accused of Sexually Abusing Dozens of Children in Portland.

St. Peters Catholic Church, 72 Federal Street, Portland.

A Message Board at St. Peters Catholic Church, 72 Federal Street, Portland.

Six strong women filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland on Wednesday, March 8, 2023 in Superior Court in Portland.  The lawsuits stem from the sexual abuse they experienced by the late Rev. Lawrence Sabatino.  Sabatino was an Assistant Pastor at St. Peter Catholic Church, 72 Federal Street from 1958 – 1970, located on the east end of Portland.

In one Complaint, the victim’s parents went to the then Bishop Feeney reporting the abusive behavior of Sabatino with their daughter.  Sabatino was admonished, but no additional precautions were taken to protect the plaintiff or other vulnerable children like her according to her Complaint.

In fact, in 1962, the Holy See issued a confidential document with instructions on how to handle child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.  ……”keep all matters relating to allegations of sexual abuse, including the existence of the document itself, secret.  It also directed the document be stored in the secret archives of its agents, to become part of the agents’ institutional knowledge and direction.”

The Complaint asserts that “despite actual and/or constructive knowledge of Sabatino’s sexually abusive behavior with minor children, the Defendant undertook no meaningful investigation or responsive action against Sabatino whatsoever and continued to give him unfettered access to vulnerable children, including Plaintiff.”

The Complaint continues that when it did investigate allegations by Sabatino victims, the Bishop kept its investigations and its results secret from church members and the public.  If the Bishop had warned church members and others about the growing number of sex abuse allegations, these warnings would probably have prevented the sexual abuse of children including the Plaintiff in this Complaint.

As a result of the late Sabatino’s illegal behavior toward the Plaintiff, she has suffered severe and “delibitating emotional injury, pain and suffering, physical and emotional trauma and permanent psychological damage requiring counseling, psychological and psychiatric medical treatment.”

The last page of the March 8, 2023 Complaint asks the Court for financial and such other relief as the Court deems “just and equitable.”  Attorneys for the Bishop have recently charged that the ending of the statute of limitations in these cases is “unconstitutional” and all 20 lawsuits that have been filed by alleged victims should be thrown out of court.  The financial implications of these lawsuits appear to be the major concern of the Maine Diocese.