Maine’s attorney general announced Wednesday that she will not charge a former Biddeford police officer accused of sexually abusing underage boys, citing “insufficient evidence” to prove alleged crimes that have roiled Biddeford City Hall for months.

Attorney General Janet Mills said she will not file criminal charges against former officer Stephen Dodd or against Michael McKeown, a registered sex offender from Biddeford. Matthew Lauzon, a Boston businessman who lived in Biddeford, has accused both men of sexually abusing him when he was a teenager and has led a high-profile push for investigations into the men as well as for the suspension of Biddeford Police Chief Roger Beaupre.

“Attorney General Mills said that a thorough investigation by her office and a legal analysis by senior prosecutors concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, including the element of Mr. Lauzon’s age at the time of the alleged encounters,” the announcement said.

Mills said the statement speaks for itself and she would not elaborate on it, according to a member of her staff.

Lauzon’s attorney, Walter McKee, was disappointed by Mills’ decision, but said that “nothing changes in terms of what we are doing.”

“We are going to file a civil lawsuit probably by the end of the year against the officer in Matt’s case, against the officer in another case and against the city,” McKee said Wednesday evening. “I guess I shouldn’t be (surprised). It’s been 30 years without a single charge against any (Biddeford) officer. That is disturbing and disappointing. While the criminal justice system has failed the victims, I intend to pick up the slack.”

Repeated attempts to reach Dodd for comment have been unsuccessful. McKeown has denied that he molested Lauzon, saying they had a consensual encounter when Lauzon was 18 or 19.

Lauzon made clear Wednesday that he is not giving up his campaign to have Beaupre put on administrative leave because he was in charge of the department at the time of the alleged abuse. Lauzon hopes the City Council will take that up during its meeting Tuesday.

“I believe if the chief is put on paid leave Tuesday night, more evidence will emerge,” Lauzon posted on a Facebook page. “I’ve been told by multiple officers there’s a fear of retaliation holding them back while the chief is in place. I believe the AG will reopen the case as new evidence emerges.”

Beaupre could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant indicated late Wednesday that city councilors are likely to discuss the sexual abuse allegations on Tuesday, although the issue was not on an agenda posted online.

“I trust and respect the professionalism of the Attorney General, and the difficult conclusions that she and her senior prosecutors have reached after their extensive investigation,” Casavant said in a statement. “The City of Biddeford appreciates the strong statement by that office many weeks ago that the Biddeford Police Department and its chief have acted properly and in full cooperation with the investigation.”

Casavant, who has clashed with Lauzon, called sexual abuse a societal problem and said that “as a community, we need to be more vigilant and more proactive in protecting our children.”

The sexual abuse allegations have sparked months of tension in Biddeford. And Wednesday’s decision by the Attorney General’s Office is unlikely to resolve an issue that is expected to be the subject of multiple lawsuits from various sides.

The case has followed an unusual path since Lauzon first went public with his allegations of abuse at the hands of the former police officer last fall. Lauzon, who works in the technology sector, used social media to build support for investigations. And as word spread, more men came forward with allegations against Dodd, as well as against another Biddeford officer, Norman Gaudette, who was investigated for alleged abuse but never charged.

Although sexual assault cases are typically prosecuted by county district attorneys, Attorney General’s Office detectives were brought in to investigate because the Biddeford Police Department might have a conflict investigating one of its former officers, and because of the allegations against the department’s command staff. Similarly, the York County District Attorney’s Office, which would normally prosecute a case of sexual molestation in that county, opted out of the case to avoid any appearance of a conflict because of its working relationship with Biddeford police.

Brian MacMaster, head of investigations for the Attorney General’s Office, asked Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson to consider taking the case as the prosecutor who would review the evidence and, if warranted, pursue criminal charges. Anderson declined to prosecute the case, after insisting on a list of conditions that Lauzon would have to meet as part of a complex, time-consuming investigation to build a case on 17-year-old allegations.

Anderson also had asked for access to Lauzon’s medical records.

“We have information that your client’s ability to recover memories of at least some of the details and events 17 years ago were assisted by ‘unconventional’ or ‘unorthodox’ treatment or counseling,” Anderson wrote in a letter to McKee. “Of course I would have to know about this. And this would be asked of any victim.”

Lauzon has said that he was abused by McKeown in the late 1990s and that Dodd made contact with him soon after his encounter with McKeown.

Lauzon says Dodd molested him during their first meeting, then in subsequent meetings, giving him beer and money. Lauzon would not talk about the abuse in detail – and wouldn’t reveal how old he was or how long the abuse occurred – because of the ongoing investigation.

After Lauzon cut off contact with Dodd, he says, the officer started a campaign of intimidation that included pulling his cruiser up to Lauzon as the teenager walked through the city, and flashing lights into his house at night.

Rick Alexander of South Portland also made sexual assault allegations against Dodd dating to the 1970s. The Biddeford Police Department suspended Dodd during an investigation, but no charges were filed. After the investigation, he retired from the department at age 46, having served on the force for 25 years.

Alexander was one of the first two people to complain formally about Dodd. In 2002, prompted in part by the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church, he told the Attorney General’s Office that Dodd had abused him in the 1970s.

Around the same time, authorities learned of another alleged victim of sexual abuse by Dodd, according to McKee, who represents at least two other alleged victims. McKee said he has spoken with the man who first brought the case to authorities’ attention.

The Portland Press Herald is not naming that alleged victim, who has not spoken publicly and has declined to be interviewed.

Since 1992, sexual assault on a child can be prosecuted no matter how much time has elapsed, but that was not the case in the 1970s, when Alexander was allegedly abused. Back then, cases older than six years could not be prosecuted.

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