Former Maine priest named in sex abuse report
PORTLAND (WGME) – A grand jury report on sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania says the Catholic Church concealed the truth and hid decades of abuse.
The grand jury report says more than 1,000 children, most of them boys, were sexually abused by priests and other church leaders in Pennsylvania over a 70-year span.
Over 300 clergy were named in the report, most are retired or deceased.
One of them, the late Father Pascal Sabas, had ties to Maine.
From 1960 to 1962, he was assigned to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Yarmouth.
He was then reassigned to St. Joseph in Portland, where he served until May of 1963.
Eight months after Father Sabas left Maine, he allegedly sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy in the catholic church, catholic school and in the basement of the boy's home.
The report says Sabas threatened the victim and told him, "Don't tell your parents. They would be very hurt if they knew what you were doing."
Augusta attorney Sumner Lipman heard stories like this before.
He's represented victims in lawsuits against the Catholic Church.
"Certain people were attracted to the priesthood to get access to kids,” Lipman said. “And they weren't screening those people. I think and I hope they're doing a better job now."
Lipman says in most cases, priests cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has run out.
Priests even used to be protected under the law.
"Almost every state in the country said wherever they place a priest is protected under the First Amendment,” Lipman said. “So you really couldn't sue the diocese."
A lawsuit against Father Sabas involving that 14-year-old victim was settled in 1989.
In 2004, the Maine Attorney General's Office released findings of a statewide investigation into 75 years of abuse allegations by Maine priests.
That investigation found the diocese failed to notify parishioners of allegations against priests, putting children at risk of abuse, but the ag found no criminal liability on the part of the diocese.
CBS 13 reached out to the Portland diocese, but got no response.