Update: Jury Retires for Night in Priest Abuse Case

Burlington Free Press

August 25, 2008

The jury in a clergy sex abuse trial, unable to reach a verdict Monday night, will reconvene this morning to continue deliberations in the case involving claims former Rev. Edward Paquette molested a Burlington altar boy in the late 1970s.

“They’re going home for the night,” Rosaire Longe, a court officer, told lawyers in the case at 8:50 p.m. Monday, nearly six hours after the jury began their deliberations.

Neither lawyers for the alleged victim or the state’s Roman Catholic diocese would comment on what they thought of the time the jury was taking to decide a verdict. A jury in May decided a similar clergy abuse case in about five hours.

Just before the jury broke for the evening, it asked for a clarification on a church document connected with the diocese’s decision to hire Paquette in 1972.

“That simply indicates the jury is taking a careful look at the documents, which is good,” Jerome O’Neill, a lawyer for the former altar boy said.

The major question facing the jurors in the case is how to assess blame for the long-ago abuse of the former altar boy by a priest who the diocese erroneously believed had been cured of his sexual preying on young boys.

The former altar boy, now a 40 year-old Waitsfield resident, claims he was fondled by Paquette between 20 and 50 times at Christ the King Church in Burlington between 1977 and 1978.


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