Evangelism Exposed

“Jesus wept.” Joh 11:35

Trial against former Fall River priest set to begin

Burlington, Vt. — [source]:

Three months after being socked with a $8.7 million verdict in a priest sex abuse case, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington returns to court this week to defend its handling of a rogue priest who allegedly molested altar boys.

Jury selection is set for Tuesday in a civil suit brought by a man who says Rev. Edward Paquette molested him when he was a student at Christ the King school in Burlington.

Paquette begin his career in the Diocese of Fall River, according to the diocesan spokesman John Kearns, who said Paquette was ordained as a priest to the Fall River Diocese in 1957. After that time, Kearns said, complaints were brought to Bishop James L. Connolly regarding “improper behavior.”

Kearns said that after a number of evaluations, the diocese in 1963 removed Paquette’s faculties, meaning he could no longer function as a priest.

Kearns said that at some point in the late 1960s, however, the Diocese of Fort Wayne, Ind., “against the strong recommendations of Bishop Connolly to not admit him,” the Diocese of Fort Wayne accepted him.


Kearns said he had no other information on Paquette following his service time with the Diocese of Fall River and was unaware of how he ended up in Vermont.


He said there have been no other allegations made to the Fall River Diocese against Paquette since his removal.


The Associated Press does not publish the names of victims of sexual assault without their consent, and the plaintiff does not want his name released, according to Jerome O’Neill, his lawyer.


The case is being tried in Chittenden County Superior Court in Burlington, where a jury on May 13 returned the $8.7 million verdict in the case of a former Christ the King altar boy who said Paquette molested him dozens of times.


In that trial, jurors were told that church leaders knew Paquette had been the subject of molestation allegations before coming to Vermont and that he was hired anyway. The jury found that Diocesan officials had engaged in negligent supervision and ordered compensatory and punitive damages for the victim in that case.


The diocese, which faces more than a dozen other suits over Paquette, is appealing the verdict.


The suit going to trial this week, which was filed in 2005, claims Paquette “committed unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual contact” on the man and that the diocese should be held liable because it knew he had abused children elsewhere.


The man is still traumatized by the attacks, has lost earning potential and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, according to the suit.


Paquette, 79, of Westfield, Mass., is still a priest but has been barred from church work. He acknowledged in a 2006 deposition that he was “sexually involved” with boys while in parishes in Massachusetts, Indiana and Vermont.


Church officials weren’t commenting on the case Monday.


Thomas McCormick, a lawyer for the Burlington Diocese, did not return an e-mail message seeking comment. Gloria Gibson, a diocese spokeswoman, said: “It’s diocesan policy not to issue comments or statements before or during trials.”

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August 12, 2008 - Posted by | Sex Abuse

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