Roman Catholic Diocese Unaware of Accused Priest Activities

Associated Press State & Local Wire
September 14, 2004

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington was unaware that a former priest accused of sexual abuse is the organist at two area churches.

The Diocese said Monday it was looking into the matter.

The Bennington Banner reported that the Rev. George Paulin, who resigned from his post in Ludlow in 2003, now plays the organ at St. Margaret Mary's in Arlington and at the United Methodist Church in Shaftsbury.

The Rev. Wendell Searles, vicar general for the diocese, said his office acquired a copy of the article Monday morning.

"We're dealing with that," he said. "We're looking into it and we'll deal with it."

Searles said the case is a "matter of confidentiality, rights and reputation" and that he wouldn't elaborate on the diocese's plans. He said his biggest issue was that the diocese wasn't made aware that Paulin was working in one of the diocese churches again.

There is no diocese policy that specifies a former priest cannot work at a church after leaving, said Searles. In fact, many who are on leave or take early retirement do and Paulin had played on occasion in other churches, but not on a regular basis, he said.

The Rev. George Dupuis of St. Margaret Mary's said he was aware of Paulin's history. He said Paulin, and not the church, should have notified the diocese.

Paulin's past "is a concern," said Dupuis, but he only allows Paulin, who is paid an occasional small donation, to play for Sunday morning services. He won't allow him to run a children's choir, he said.

He was accused by Paul Babeu, 34, a former commissioner for Berkshire County, Mass., of sexually abusing him during an overnight trip to the Northeast Kingdom when Babeu was a teenager in the 1980s.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington paid Babeu approximately $20,000 to drop his court case.

Neil Morrissette, 45, of Newport also has accused Paulin of sexually abusing him when he was a 13-year-old member of St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Newport 1971, said Burlington lawyer Jerome O'Neill, who filed the civil case. That case has not been resolved.


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