Accused Ex-Clergy Now an Organist

By Laura Raskin
Bennington Banner [Vermont]
September 13, 2004

ARLINGTON -- A former priest who resigned in 2003 after he was accused of sexual abuse is now the organist at two area churches.

The Rev. George Paulin, former pastor in Ludlow, now plays the organ at St. Margaret Mary's in Arlington and at the United Methodist Church in Shaftsbury, said the Rev. George Dupuis, of St. Margaret Mary's, on Sunday.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington paid 34-year-old former Berkshire County, Mass., commissioner Paul Babeu an unspecified sum in return for dropping his court case against it in October 2003.

Babeu, now of Arizona, alleged that Paulin had sexually abused him when he was a teenager in the 1980s on an overnight trip to the Northeast Kingdom.

After 8 a.m. Mass here on Sunday, Paulin said, "This has been such a torment."

He declined to comment further before leaving the church in his car.

Dupuis said he is aware of Paulin's history. He has been the organist there for about a year.

It is not a paid position, but Dupuis tries to give Paulin a small donation when he can, like he would an organist at a wedding or funeral, he said.

Paulin's past "is a concern," said Dupuis, but he only allows Paulin to play for Sunday's 8 and 10 a.m. services. He won't allow him to run a children's choir, he said.

"I don't know how many know about his situation. He heard I didn't have an organist and I just thought I'd help him out," said Dupuis.

So far Paulin has not caused any problems. Some parishioners have expressed disdain at his presence in the church, but not strongly, he said.

Dupuis doesn't know what the future holds and expects the issue will be taken up this fall by the planning committee of the church, he said.

He did not announce Paulin's arrival at the church, but most parishioners caught on and asked for his last name.

"I told them, why don't you go and ask him?," said Dupuis.

He has not had any conversations at length with Paulin about his past, he said.

Dupuis has been at St. Margaret Mary's since 1982 and has been a priest for 54 years.

"I'm ready to retire. I'm 80 years old," he said.

The sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic church did not affect Dupuis' congregation directly, but "We can't approve (those) actions," he said.

"It's taken down the priesthood and the church," he said.

The Rev. Barbara Estey of Shaftsbury United Methodist Church was unavailable for comment over the weekend. The Vermont Roman Catholic Diocese in Burlington was also contacted for this story, but is not open on weekends.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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