Ex-priest at center of Boston scandal indicted on 29 counts of sexual abuse in Maine
By Edward D. Murphy
Portland Press Herald
February 8, 2017
|Former Catholic priest Ronald Paquin, shown in court in Haverhill, Mass., in 2002, has been indicted on 29 counts of sexual abuse in Maine dating back to the 1980s. |
Photo by Tom Landers
A former Catholic priest who was at the center of the Boston church sex-abuse scandal has been indicted on 29 counts of sexual abuse in Maine dating back three decades.
The indictments against Ronald Paquin were handed down Tuesday by a York County grand jury. Paquin is accused of abusing two boys whom he brought from Massachusetts to Kennebunkport in the late 1980s.
Paquin pleaded guilty in 2002 to repeatedly raping a Haverhill, Massachusetts, altar boy from 1989 to 1992. The rapes began when the boy was 12.
Paquin was laicized – removed from the priesthood – in 2002 and was jailed on the rape charges from 2002 until 2015.
Kennebunkport Police Chief Craig Sanford said the Maine cases were referred to his department by the state Attorney General’s Office, which was approached by one of the alleged victims in 2011. Sanford said the acts reportedly occurred at a “seasonal location,” but neither he nor Kathryn Slattery, the York County district attorney, would provide any more details. The dates in the indictment range from Nov. 1, 1985, to Aug. 20, 1988, and some of the alleged sexual acts occurred when one of the boys was younger than 14.
Sanford said Paquin would bring the boys to Maine “for short-term stays.”
Such out-of-state trips were common among priests who committed sexual abuse, said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who represented dozens of victims of sexual abuse by priests in Massachusetts. He said priests would typically befriend the families of boys they wanted to abuse, and then persuade the parents to allow their children to go on out-of-state trips with them.
“It’s not unusual for predators to travel with children,” Garabedian said. “It’s actually very common.”
Garabedian, who represented 12 of Paquin’s victims in lawsuits against the Boston archdiocese, said parents often thought an offer of a trip with a priest was an honor. If a child resisted subsequent trips, he said, the parents would think there was something wrong with their child.
He said there is no one trigger that leads a victim to come forward with allegations of abuse years or decades after the acts.
“Victims will come forward well into their 80s,” he said.
Keith Townsend, who told the Boston Globe on Tuesday that he was one of the victims in the Maine indictment, said he told Maine authorities about Paquin when he heard that the former priest had been released from prison. He told the Globe that Paquin began abusing him when he was 8 or 9 years old, both in Massachusetts and at a camp in Kennebunkport.
“I’m guessing Paquin victims will come forward ad infinitum,” said Robert Hoatson, one of the founders of Road to Recovery, an organization that provides support to survivors of childhood sexual abuse. “The good thing is that they do.”
Paquin’s case was one of those featured in the Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight,” about the Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of sexual abuse of children by priests and the archdiocese’s efforts to cover it up by moving predatory priests from one parish to another.
The Globe reported in October 2015 that after he was released from prison, two medical specialists said Paquin, 72 at the time, no longer met the criteria to be considered sexually dangerous. The paper also said court records indicated that after his release, Paquin would seek treatment in either New York or Massachusetts and eventually move to Maine, where he would also seek sex offender treatment.
It’s not known where Paquin is now. The indictment lists his address as a treatment center in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, that’s connected to the state prison there, but officials said he was released from the facility in 2015 and they don’t have any updated information on where he is living now.
There were reports that he was living in a Boston shelter for homeless men, but calls to the shelter were not returned Wednesday.
Sanford said Maine will issue a warrant for Paquin’s arrest that will be turned over to a unit of the Massachusetts State Police that deals with sex offenders.
Slattery said officials will seek to have Paquin extradited to Maine for an arraignment, but no date has been set.
Slattery said the state removed its statute of limitations on cases of sexual abuse of minors in 1991. The law allowed cases that had occurred from 1985 on to be prosecuted whenever they were presented, she said.