Accused Priest Still Fighting Extradition

By Sara Withee
Milford Daily News [Bellingham MA]
March 17, 2005

BELLINGHAM -- The Rev. Paul Desilets has given official notice he will continue fighting extradition on sex abuse charges, Worcester District Attorney John Conte's office said yesterday.

Many expected the move by the 81-year-old priest, who has been appealing his return for three years.

"It doesn't surprise me in the least," Bellingham Detective Sgt. Richard Perry said yesterday.

In a March 6 story, Desilets' attorney, Guylaine Lavigne of Montreal, told the Daily News her client planned to keep appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada, the nation's highest court. But Conte's office said she had until last Friday to file.

Conte's office began the extradition process to return Desilets in fall 2002, several months after a Worcester County grand jury indicted the priest on 32 criminal charges for allegedly abusing 18 altar boys at the former Assumption Parish.

The priest, believed to be in a nursing home outside Montreal, faces 16 counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, 10 counts of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or older and six counts of assault and battery.

Desilets served at Assumption Parish, which fell victim last year to the Archdiocese of Boston's church closings, from 1974 to 1984, then returned to his home country of Canada.

Most of his accusers kept quiet until similar allegations began emerging in early 2002 against priests throughout the archdiocese. They filed a civil lawsuit against the archdiocese that was settled in January 2004.

Perry said he has kept in touch with some victims and knows no one will be surprised Desilets is fighting onward.

"I think that they would expect it, only because it's been so long and it's dragged out for such a long time," Perry said.

Perry said the length of time has caused some of the men to give up.

"There's quite a few of them that have lost faith and there are other ones, they're really holding strong," Perry said. "They're really hoping he's going to come back. And for them, they have every right to have their cases heard. I think it's part of the healing process."


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