Defrocked Priest's Conviction Upheld in Maine
By Mike LaBella
April 24, 2020
| AP file photo. In this May 23, 2019 photo, former Roman Catholic priest Ronald Paquin arrives for sentencing York County Superior Court in Alfred, Maine. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday upheld convictions on 10 of 11 counts against Paquin for sexually abusing a boy in Maine in the 1980s. Paquin already had served more than 10 years in prison in Massachusetts. In 2019 he was ordered to serve another 16 years in prison in Maine.|
HAVERHILL — Maine's highest court has upheld convictions on 10 of 11 counts for a defrocked priest who was sentenced to prison for sexually abusing an altar boy during trips to the state in the 1980s.
Ronald Paquin, 77, had already served more than 10 years in prison in Massachusetts. Last year, he was ordered to serve another 16 years in prison in Maine after his conviction in late November 2018 on 11 of 24 counts of gross sexual misconduct.
Paquin served at St. John the Baptist Church in Haverhill from 1981 to 1990, and St. Monica Church in Methuen from 1974 to 1980.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled Thursday that two counts violated Paquin’s constitutional double jeopardy protection against being punished twice for the same crime, and it vacated one of the counts.
But the court dismissed other arguments, including the defense contention that the victim’s criminal record should have been presented, along with questions about expert testimony about victims of sexual crimes.
Paquin was released from prison in 2015 after completing his sentence in Massachusetts and then was taken into custody in Maine.
Testimony against Paquin in the Maine case included allegations that he plied young victims with alcohol and allowed them to drive his car without a license on trips to Maine. Victims alleged the abuse went on for years.
He was charged with abusing two boys on his trips to Maine, but the jury convicted him of counts involving only one of them.
Paquin was portrayed in the movie "Spotlight" about the Boston Globe investigation into abuse by Roman Catholic clergy and his case was a critical piece of a sexual abuse scandal that consumed the Archdiocese of Boston.
One of Paquin's victims, 46-year-old Keith Townsend, testified before sentencing that Paquin's abuse sent him into a spiral of depression and drug abuse, and caused him to question his faith in God. The Associated Press does not normally identify victims of sexual abuse, but Townsend identified himself as the victim and gave permission for his name to be used.
Later, Townsend said he was satisfied with the sentence, and he hoped it would motivate more victims to name their abusers.
"I just want to say that Thursday's decision is a big win for survivors of abuse everywhere," Townsend told The Eagle-Tribune following Thursday's court decision. "I hope it empowers more victims to come forward and see that you are not alone and justice will prevail."
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.