Lawyer calls for release of records after priest allegation

Associated Press [New York NY]

July 14, 2021

By Wilson Ring

A lawyer called on Vermont’s Catholic church Wednesday to release all the records about a priest he alleged abused a 9-year-old boy in South Burlington in the 1960s.

But the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington said Tuesday it checked its records and found no abuse allegations against the Rev. Roger W. Carlin, who died in 1980.

Boston Attorney Mitchell Garabedian said Wednesday he was planning to file a lawsuit on behalf of the man who said he was abused by Carlin in 1966 or 1967 when he was a 9-year-old altar boy at St. John Vianney Church, South Burlington. The man is now in his mid-60s and did not want to be publicly identified.

“If the diocese does not want to release the secret files voluntarily, we will try to gain access to the secret files through civil litigation,” Garabedian said during a Wednesday news conference.

Carlin’s name was not in a list of priests against whom credible abuse allegations had been made that was released by the diocese two years ago. After it received the allegation against Carlin, the diocese checked those files again.

“The Diocese notes that this is the first allegation it has received concerning him,” the church said in a statement.

The church also remains committed to engaging in a fair legal process, including the release of files seeking to resolve any claims outstanding against it.

In 2019 the diocese released a report that found there were “credible and substantiated” allegations of the sexual abuse of minors against 40 priests in the state since 1950.

All but one of those allegations occurred prior to 2000, and none of the priests is still in ministry. At the time it said most of the priests who were named in the report were dead. Carlin’s name was not on that list.

“Those files, if released, will not only probably tell us to some extent of Father Carlin’s abuse of innocent children, but also tell us how the supervisors of Father Carlin turned their backs and hid the truth,” Garabedian said.

He said that his client went to the pastor of the church, but was told “you should not ever speak about a priest like that.”

Garabedian said his client is coming forward now because he has been having a difficult time.

“He’s looking for validation. He’s looking to heal. He’s looking for some sort of peace and he is trying to gain it through his revelations,” Garabedian said.

Retired Burlington reporter Michael Donoghue, a member of the seven-member committee that assembled the 2019 abuse list, said he spent more than two hours going back through the records on Wednesday morning.

“From the review there was no indication of any sexual misconduct complaints filed with the diocese when he was serving in Vermont or out of state,” Donoghue said.