An Augusta man has filed a civil lawsuit alleging that the founder of Special Olympics Maine groomed and sexually abused him for decades, starting when he was 9 years old in 1967.

Mark Frank, who is now 65, alleges in the lawsuit that the organization knew Melvin “Mickey” Boutilier had a history of abusive behavior and should have been aware of his inappropriate relationships with children when he worked with the nonprofit. Special Olympics says it is now investigating the allegations.

“The passage of time does not lessen the severity of the allegations,” the national Special Olympics organization and Special Olympics Maine said in a joint statement. “A violation of trust by anyone involved with Special Olympics tears at the fabric of the movement. The behavior described in these allegations is not – and has never been – tolerated at Special Olympics.”

Frank filed the lawsuit last month in Cumberland County Superior Court against Special Olympics Maine and Special Olympics Inc., which is based in Washington, D.C. The Portland Press Herald does not name victims of alleged sexual abuse without their consent. Boutilier died in 2012. He had no criminal history in Maine, according to a Maine criminal background check.

Melvin “Mickey” Boutilier

Frank’s attorney, Michael Bigos, said his client came forward because of the 2021 law change that repealed the statute of limitations for civil claims of childhood sexual abuse. He said Frank was abused “dozens, if not hundreds” of times during a nine-year period when he was a child and continued for another decade when he was an adult.

It follows dozens of similar lawsuits that have been filed since 2021 that seek to hold institutions, rather than abusers, accountable for failing to stop it.


“Mr. Frank feels it’s time and he would like to hold the Special Olympics and Special Olympics Maine organizations responsible for the preventable abuse he experienced,” Bigos said. 

Special Olympics said they were “shocked and saddened” by the allegations.

“We require all coaches, volunteers and staff be trained on protective behaviors meant to prevent exploitation of people with intellectual disabilities, and we have clearly defined and well-communicated policies that prohibit all forms of harassment and abuse for anyone affiliated with our programs,” the organization said in a statement.

Frank, who was not a Special Olympics athlete, says in the complaint that he has suffered severe and debilitating emotional injury, pain and suffering, emotional trauma and permanent psychological damage because of the abuse. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

Boutilier, an Army veteran who worked as a special education teacher in Gorham, took a group of students to compete in the first Special Olympics at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1968. A year later, he founded Special Olympics Maine, which became a model for other Special Olympics organizations throughout the country. He received numerous awards, including the Angel Award, the highest honor given by Special Olympics International, according to the lawsuit. 

Frank alleges that Boutilier began grooming him in 1967, when Frank was a 9-year-old fourth grader on Boutilier’s basketball team, the “Boots’s Bombers,” through the Gorham Recreation Department.



Boutilier began by hosting “pizza parties” as a reward for the team at his apartment in downtown Gorham, but slowly began inviting fewer players until only it was only Frank having one-on-one pizza meals with the coach, according to the lawsuit. Boutilier then allegedly increased his grooming by exposing himself to Frank and showing him pornographic materials.

Mark Frank, at approximately age 9, when he says Melvin “Mickey” Boutilier, the founder of Special Olympics Maine, started to groom him for sexual abuse. Courtesy Berman & Simmons

Two years later, Boutilier began giving Frank alcohol and then sexually assaulting the inebriated 11-year-old, according to the complaint.

Boutilier “was in the perfect environment to build trust, seek vulnerable children and groom them,” Bigos said.

Frank alleges that the abuse continued for years in Boutilier’s home office and at numerous Special Olympics events in Maine, Michigan and Mexico. He said Boutilier also abused him during business trips for Special Olympics, the lawsuit says.

Frank became a volunteer and employee at Special Olympics Maine when he was a teenager and young adult, according to his attorney.


The lawsuit alleges that Boutilier routinely threatened to fire, defame and physically harm Frank if he ever reported the abuse.

The sexual abuse continued until Frank was in his mid- to late-20s, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges Special Olympics had a duty to disclose Boutilier’s “abusive propensities and history.” It says Special Olympics failed to disclose known incidents of abuse by Boutilier that happened before he began abusing Frank, but does not elaborate on any other allegations.

“Despite this knowledge, defendants exposed plaintiff to an unreasonable risk of harm when they failed to properly monitor Boutilier’s relationships and allowed Boutilier’s pursuit of an inappropriate relationship to continue,” the complaint stated.

Because of incorrect information provided to a reporter, this story was updated on March 29 to remove a reference to the Maine Teacher of the Year award. 

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