Woman plans to sue Portland's Catholic Diocese for failing to stop known abuser in 1960s

Dec. 1—A woman who alleges that a former Catholic priest sexually abused her in the 1960s plans to file a civil lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

Ann Allen says the diocese failed to stop the abuse or warn parishioners about allegations dating back to 1958, according to her attorney. She says she was sexually abused by the Rev. Lawrence Sabatino when he was at St. Peter Parish in Portland in the 1960s. Sabatino died in 1990.

The church publicly acknowledged in 2005 that he and eight other priests had been sexual abusers, following an investigation by the Maine State Attorney General.

Allen is the latest Mainer to sue for abuse since changes to state law in 2021 that eliminated time barriers for survivors seeking civil action.

Her attorney, Michael Bigos, is also representing three men who have filed similar lawsuits since the law changed. They announced their lawsuits in March, related to abuse that they say occurred in churches across the state during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Bigos said he will be filing Allen's complaint, which outlines Sabatino's history of abusing children as early as 1958, on Thursday in Cumberland County Superior Court. Sabatino was a priest in seven different parishes from the 1950s to the 1990s. The church was made aware of his behavior, Bigos says, and failed to warn and protect parishioners.

Sabatino led congregations in Portland, Millinocket, Lewiston, Brewer, Brownville and Pittsfield.

This story will be updated.