BIDDEFORD, Maine — WARNING: This story contains details that may be triggering for some people. Resources are listed at the bottom of this story.
A woman has come forward after 39 years alleging she was sexually assaulted by a priest who is on administrative leave amid an internal investigation by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.
Father Robert Vaillancourt was placed on leave in July following accusations he sexually abused a girl in the 1980s.
Vaillancourt, who was relieved of his post as pastor to several churches on the Mid Coast within the parish of Saint Brendan the Navigator, has denied the allegations.
The latest alleged victim, who does not want to be identified, is now considering taking action under a new law that allows survivors to file a civil case.
"Jane" said she was just 15 when she met Father Robert Vaillancourt. It was 1982 and Vaillancourt known as "Father Bob" was a new priest in charge of the youth program at the former St. Andre's Catholic Church in Biddeford.
Jane is not her real name and we are protecting her identity.
Over time, the alleged victim opened up to Vaillancourt, telling him about problems with the abuse she was experiencing at home. She said she trusted him because he was a man of God and he promised to help resolve those issues.
"I felt like I could trust him and eventually he raped me," the alleged victim said.
She said Vaillancourt sexually assaulted her several times in the church's basement and the rectory when most parishioners had gone.
"I didn't know how to fight back," she said. Fearing no one would believe her, Jane didn't tell anyone what happened, not even her husband for nearly four decades.
But, when Vaillancourt was placed on leave this past summer following allegations of sexually abusing a girl in the 1980s, it triggered something in Jane.
"I just wanted her to know that I believe her and I am with her. I am one of them," Jane said.
After filing a statement with the Biddeford Police Department, she and her attorney Mark Randall notified the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland with a detailed statement.
Spokesman Dave Guthro said Vaillancourt has denied any wrongdoing and will cooperate with any investigation, but Guthro would not address the alleged victim's accusations against Vaillancourt, telling NEWS CENTER in a statement:
"An Office of Professional Responsibility Investigation is ongoing so there are no updates at this time. When the investigation is complete its finding will be made public."
Under a new law that takes effect in Maine next month, survivors like Jane can file a civil suit.
"They deserve to be heard they deserve justice," Randall said.
Anyone who may have information about any case of sexual abuse of a minor by a church representative can Michael Magalski, Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility for the Diocese of Portland, at (207) 321-7836 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also call Maine's sexual assault crisis and support line at 1-800-871-7741.