Vt. Diocese Settles Suit

Times Argus
July 26, 2008

BURLINGTON — Vermont's Catholic Church has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by a former Montpelier altar boy who says he was molested by a parish priest in the 1970s.

Neither the statewide Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington nor the plaintiff's attorney, Jerome O'Neill, are divulging the amount of the settlement, which comes less than a month before the case was set for trial in Chittenden Superior Court.

"The individual involved did not want it known that he had been molested," O'Neill said of the settlement.

In court filings, the man — identified only as "John Doe" — said the Rev. Edward Paquette molested him up to 50 times beginning when he was 10.

Most of the incidents allegedly took place at St. Augustine Church in Montpelier, while another is said to have occurred during an outing at Elmore State Park.

Paquette, who is now retired and lives in Westfield, Mass., worked in Rutland in 1972, Montpelier in 1974 and Burlington in 1976 before his suspension in 1978. Church personnel records show the diocese transferred Paquette from one parish to another without telling anyone it knew he had molested boys first in Massachusetts and then in Indiana.

Last May, a former Burlington altar boy won a record $8.7 million judgment against the diocese on similar allegations of negligent supervision of Paquette. The diocese is appealing that verdict.

Diocesan lawyer Tom McCormick said the amount of the latest settlement would be made public once it is finalized.

The diocese still must tackle almost two dozen similar lawsuits involving nine past priests. Of those pending cases, 16 involve Paquette, including one set for a jury draw Aug. 12.


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