Dec. 31, 2019
By Gordon Dritschilo
The Diocese of Burlington finally named names.
The diocese released a report in August listing 39 Catholic priests it said had been credibly accused of sexual abuse during their time in Vermont, and one who served in Vermont and was credibly accused elsewhere. Twenty of them spent at least some time in Rutland County parishes. Six served at Christ the King over a span of 26 years.
The report was assembled by an independent committee that reviewed the files of 52 priests who had been subject to accusations. Almost all of the accusations dated back at least 20 years. The majority of the accused priests were deceased and none were active. Many had been moved from parish to parish over a long period before they were either removed from positions of authority or retired.
Reactions demonstrated that what was know in the church had been kept from the community.
“Most of the names of that list were not surprises to us,” said the Rev. Bernard Bourgeois, pastor of Christ the King. While they may not have been surprises to Bourgeois, many of the names came as a surprise to Rutland Catholics. In other cases, members of area parishes said they heard rumors or had bad feelings about particular priests, but never knew anything for sure.
Only one victim in Rutland County has come forward publicly, describing abuse at the hands of the Rev. Edward Paquette as well as the long-lasting psychological impacts of that abuse.
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