Summary of Church Action in Sex-Abuse Cases

Burlington Free Press [Vermont]
April 30, 2006

What follows is a summary of how Bishop John Marshall confronted various claims of priest sexual misconduct during his 21-year tenure as leader of the state's Roman Catholic diocese, and what happened afterward. Information was collected from court documents and interviews conducted by the Free Press:

In 1974, after being informed by the Rutland parish priest that the Rev. Ed. Paquette had molested "two young men" at the Rutland hospital while performing a Communion ritual, Marshall transferred Paquette to a Montpelier parish, and later to a Burlington parochial school parish.

Paquette is now believed to have molested altar boys at all three locations. Nine of the 11 cases filed against the diocese by his alleged victims were filed by former altar boys in Burlington. The other two were filed by former altar boys at St. Augustine Church in Montpelier when Paquette was a priest there. One of the alleged victims, identified only as "John Doe," claims he was molested between 30 and 50 times by Paquette.

In 1975 or 1976, three teenage counselors working at Camp Holy Cross in Colchester gave Marshall 80 slides of naked boys they said they had found in a cabin used by the Rev. James McShane. Marshall scolded the counselors for their action, they recalled in interviews.

"I was shocked and surprised ... (McShane) had these," one of the former counselors, Levering White of Boston, said in a 2002 interview with the Free Press. "They were of kids outdoors, in the woods, with no clothes on."

McShane was placed on leave by the diocese in 2002 amid claims he sexually abused boys at undisclosed locations. He has since been the target of two lawsuits by alleged victims, one of which was settled for $120,000.

In 1979, Marshall removed the Rev. Alfred Willis from a Burlington parish after receiving allegations Willis had molested altar boys there and placed Willis in Milton without informing the parish priest about Willis' misconduct.

Willis has since been the target of three lawsuits by alleged victims, all in Milton. One of the cases was settled in 2004 for $150,000.

In 1988, Marshall refused to abide by a court order that he undergo a deposition in the criminal case of the Rev. Michael Madden, charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with two boys in Barton.

Police at the time believed Madden had molested dozens of boys in the early 1970s at the St. Joseph's Orphanage and at five parishes where he served as priest. He later settled out of court with one of the Barton victims for $162,500.

In 1990, Terry Reis Kennedy wrote to Marshall, complaining that she had been raped as a girl by the Rev. Benjamin Wysolmerski in the late 1950s.

"My study has uncovered nothing so far to corroborate your story and some rather strong evidence which would seem to exonerate the one against whom you have made your allegation," Marshall wrote back in a letter reviewed by the Free Press.

Wysolmerski was later the target of a lawsuit brought by Janet Labelle Prince, who claimed Wysolmerski had raped her as a child and again in the late 1970s, when she was married. Prince later reached an undisclosed out-of-court settlement with the diocese. -- Sam Hemingway, Free Press


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