Settlement Eyed in Vt. Church Abuse Case

Boston Globe
September 29, 2003

RUTLAND, Vt. -- Roman Catholic Church officials in Vermont are negotiating a possible settlement in a lawsuit filed by a former North Adams, Mass., city councilor and Berkshire County commissioner who alleges he was abused as a teenager by a priest in the late 1980s.

Paul Babeu, who is 34 and now lives in Arizona, asserts that he was 15 when the Rev. George Paulin, who was a pastor in Ludlow before resigning this year, abused him on an overnight visit to Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.

"We are in negotiations with the Burlington Diocese," his lawyer, Thomas Bixby, told the Rutland Herald.

The New Yorker magazine reported last year that former Massachusetts priest Richard Lavigne, a convicted child molester, drove Babeu to Vermont to leave him alone with Paulin. Babeu has also filed a suit in Massachusetts against the Diocese of Springfield alleging that he was abused by Lavigne.

The diocese's lawyer, William M. O'Brien of Winooski, said he hoped that at least three other lawsuits would also be settled.

Babeu said that family members reported the incident to then-Vermont Catholic Bishop John Marshall, who responded in a letter to them dated March 13, 1987: "I was disappointed and disturbed in learning about the allegations against" Paulin, "inasmuch as I have never heard any rumor, innuendo, or complaint directly or indirectly that would indicate that he possessed pedophilic tendencies."

Babeu heard nothing more for 16 years. Then Vermont's Catholic diocese said last year it was placing Paulin on leave at the same time the state attorney general's office began investigating decades of alleged priest misconduct.

This story ran on page B3 of the Boston Globe on 9/29/2003.


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