Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Roland Poirier - Repeat Child Molester - Groomed Kids into Silence

The threat was so horrifying that it kept Gerard Galipeau Jr. silent about his childhood sexual abuse for 30 years.

"He said they'll never believe you. By the way, if they do believe you, I'll kill your parents," Galipeau recalled. "And here's another thing: If they're dead, you're living with me."

The threat, he said, came from his uncle, Roland "Jerry" Poirier. He had no doubt Poirier would follow through.

"That shut me down," he said.

Even as a teenager, a young man and then an adult nearing middle age, Galipeau didn't tell anyone about the times his uncle molested him. He didn't break his silence until Nov. 8, 2006 - the night Scott Poirier, his cousin and Roland Poirier's son, shot and killed the elder Poirier, telling police his father had molested him.

"The way I understand it, we all thought we were alone," Galipeau said.

Family members say Galipeau and Scott Poirier were far from Roland Poirier's only victims. They say the publicly well-respected Lewiston businessman was a raging alcoholic who abused close relatives, extended family members and friends.

But no one talked about it.

Not until the night Scott Poirier took a hunting rifle, sighted the scope and shot his father dead while he sat at the head of the dining room table during his 65th birthday party.

"It all comes down to people not knowing," Galipeau said.

For Galipeau, it was the threat that stopped him. When he was a child, the possibility of his parents' death terrified him. The added possibility that he could be orphaned and then sent to live with his molester was too much to bear.

"They were my security. Why would I risk losing my security?" he said.

When he was 16, he said, he stopped the abuse himself by pulling a gun on Roland Poirier. Still, he never talked of it. He put the abuse behind him, he said. Or tried to.

"In my mind, I was in prison for 28 years," he said.

Maurice "Moe" Poirier, Roland Poirier's younger brother, said Poirier started sexually abusing him when he was 6 and the elder Poirier was about 15. The brothers shared a bedroom, and to escape the almost-nightly abuse, Maurice Poirier said he often slipped into his parents' bed. He never told of the abuse, despite a horrific choice his parents once unknowingly offered him.

"My parents promised me if I slept in my bed for one week, I'd get a two-wheeled bicycle. I didn't have a two-wheeled bicycle yet, and that was a big thing," he said. "I toughed it out."

The molestation went on for years, and while Maurice Poirier said his brother never threatened to hurt him or their parents, he believes a child sexual abuse victim wouldn't have been taken seriously in the 1950s and '60s.

"People were not that forward to talk about it," he said. "At that time, it was hidden in the closet."

Maurice Poirier said his brother made him out to be a drunk and hot-tempered, traits that would not have helped his credibility if he brought up the abuse as an adult. He was also conscious of the fact that his brother was an influential member of the community, someone who garnered powerful friends.

"He had ways to make your life miserable," Maurice Poirier said.

Although small groups of victims knew about their own abuse - Maurice Poirier said Scott Poirier once told him about his molestation, for example - no one ever went to the police, family members said. No one ever talked about it with the extended family as a whole, and no one ever told at least one key family member: Roland Poirier's wife.

Henriette Poirier, Roland Poirier's wife and Scott Poirier's mother, said she was never aware of any sexual abuse. Although Roland Poirier verbally and emotionally abused her, she said, he never hurt her physically, and she never saw him molest children.

If she'd known, she said, she would have done something to stop it. Immediately.

"My kids came first," she said. "I wish I would have (known)."

But family members said they were too afraid, too ashamed, too worried they wouldn't be believed, or were trying too hard to put the abuse behind them to bring it up.

Until Nov. 8, 2006.

The night of the shooting, Galipeau, 39, finally told his parents he'd been molested. A few days later, Maurice Poirier, 57, told the family of his abuse.

From there, the victims kept emerging.

"When that situation happened, everyone was freed," Galipeau said.

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