Expert Witness Testifies in Priest Sex Abuse Trial

By Michael Henrich
Fox 44
August 18, 2008

An expert witness, a catholic priest who specializes in counseling victims of clergy sexual abuse, testified Monday that the Catholic Diocese of Burlington was negligent in its handling of Father Edward Paquette in the 1970s.

A former altar boy at Christ the King in Burlington claims the diocese acted irresponsibly when it hired Paquette even though it knew of reports of sexual abuse at parishes in Massachusetts and Indiana.

Bishop John Marshall made that decision and then moved Paquette from parishes in Rutland to Montpelier and then finally Burlington as accusations of molestation arose at those places.

Father Thomas Doyle said in Chittenden County Superior Court that evidence showed Paquette had a history of abusing boys in the Diocese he previously worked in.

Doyle, a well-known advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse, said he based his opinion on letters and other documents included in the Burlington Diocese's 88-page file on Paquette.

Defense attorneys tried to paint Doyle's conclusions as retrospective, quoting several articles Doyle wrote in the past two decades in which he outlined certain conditions under which abusive priests could return to work. Doyle acknowledged his past opinions, but said he didn't have all the information available to bishops when he made those comments.

Plaintiff's attorneys, prior to the defense's questions on the issue, brought up the $300-an-hour fee Doyle charges for his work as an expert witness. Doyle said much of that money goes to charity, though.

The trial resumes Tuesday.


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