During a dramatic moment just before the council vote, a registered sex offender who has been the target of recent allegations showed up at City Hall asking to speak to the council, prompting an emotional outburst from supporters of his alleged victim.
Councilors, largely ignoring yelling in the audience, continued to vote in favor of the restrictions. Michael McKeown of Biddeford, a registered sex offender, speaks to the media outside the City Council meeting Tuesday night. City officials have been largely silent on the controversy, citing state law barring them from speaking specifically about an ongoing investigation into sex abuse allegations against Stephen Dodd, a former police officer who was investigated on similar charges in The controversy was sparked by Matt Lauzon, a Boston businessman who went public on social media two months ago with his accusations of being sexually abused by Dodd more than a decade ago.
Since then, other alleged victims have come forward and dozens of residents have packed city council meetings demanding action by city leaders.
Lauzon and his supporters have asked city officials to suspend Police Chief Roger Beaupre and Deputy Police Chief JoAnne Fisk, who headed the department when Dodd was investigated before his retirement.
After a tense May 5 City Council meeting erupted in tears and shouts from alleged sex abuse victims and their supporters, the council voted unanimously to have the city attorney draft an ordinance to restrict registered sex offenders from living within feet of schools and playgrounds.
The council also asked state Sen. David Dutremble, D-Biddeford, to propose legislation to implement those restrictions on the state level. Lauzon and his supporters are expected to again push for the suspensions during a May 28 general meeting called by residents to discuss the sex abuse allegations. Dozens of cities and towns in Maine have ordinances that prohibit sex offenders from living near schools, playgrounds and parks, but the restrictions have been challenged nationally by civil rights groups as overly punitive.
This is the first time Biddeford considered implementing the restrictions in the city, which is home to 72 sex offenders, according to the Maine Sex Offender Registry. City leaders agreed to pursue a local ordinance after Lauzon said he was first molested by a registered sex offender who lives across May Street from the Little League fields. After the council closed public comment on the proposal, McKeown walked into council chambers and asked to speak. A motion by Councilor Robert Quattrone to suspend the rules to allow McKeown to speak was rejected by the council.
Matt Lauzon told McKeown he would like to have a respectful, face-to-face discussion with him. In the hallway outside the meeting, McKeown repeatedly denied that he molested Lauzon, saying they had a consensual encounter when Lauzon was 18 or Statewide, there are roughly 3, registered sex offenders living in Maine, a number that fluctuates daily as people come off or are added to the list , or move in or out of the state. Local ordinances are allowed by a Maine law that permits municipalities to prohibit certain sex offenders from living with feet of a school, park or other public facility where children are the primary users.
The restrictions apply only to those with felony convictions and whose victims were under the age of The South Portland City Council in unanimously passed an ordinance restricting where sex offenders can live. Bangor passed its ordinance in The city of Portland discussed a local ordinance in but never enacted one. The Biddeford ordinance creates a foot radius around restricted properties where sex offenders convicted of crimes against children would not be allowed to live.
It does not apply to registered sex offenders who already live within those zones. After its unanimous vote in favor of the ordinance, the City Council voted in favor of suspending the rules to pass the ordinance as an emergency member. Councilor Michael Swanton voted against waiving the second reading that is usually required to implement a new ordinance.