Augusta man files abuse lawsuit against ex-priest, Maine diocese

This story was published on Feb. 23, 2007 on Page B10 in all editions of the Bangor Daily News

AUGUSTA – An Augusta man filed a lawsuit Wednesday against a former priest and Maine’s Roman Catholic diocese, claiming he was sexually abused as a boy.

William Picher, 33, alleged that he was repeatedly abused by the Rev. Raymond Melville between 1986 and 1989 when he was a student at St. Mary’s School in Augusta.

The suit, filed in Kennebec County Superior Court, was the second to be brought against Melville, who has left the priesthood and now lives in Oklahoma.

Michael Fortin of Sidney won a $500,000 judgment against Melville. The diocese settled its case with Fortin in 2005, but terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The Diocese of Portland was aware of Picher’s abuse allegations but did not know about the lawsuit, said diocesan spokeswoman Sue Bernard.

Melville left the priesthood in 1997 while pastor of Holy Name Catholic Church in Machias. Accusations that he molested boys in various locations became public in 2002, when the first lawsuit was filed.