Priest Abuse Jury Recesses without Verdict

Burlington Free Press

August 26, 2008

The Chittenden Superior Court jury deliberating in the priest abuse case has ended deliberations for the day without reaching a verdict.

The jury, which began deliberations at about 3:30 p.m. Monday and continued throughout the day, will reconvene Wednesday morning.

Earlier today, the jury asked the judge shortly after 3 p.m. today for guidance on the subject of compensatory damages.

“The question is ‘Can I help you?’ Unfortunately, the answer is no. I can’t give you a ballpark number. That’s your job,” Judge Matthew Katz told the jurors who had filed back into the courtroom to hear his response.

Compensatory damages are those awarded to compensate the victim of an action for his or her loses. The case involves claims former Rev. Edward Paquette molested a Burlington altar boy in the late 1970s.

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.

The jury has asked Katz several questions since it began deliberating at 3:20 p.m. Monday. Katz praised the jury today for its careful work on the case and encouraged members to keep at their task.

John Evers, representing the Waitsfield man, suggested to the jury award his client between $886,000 and $14.3 million in damages, including between $6 million and $12 million in punitive damages, meant to punish the statewide Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington for its wrongful supervision of Paquette.

Lawyers for the diocese do not dispute the abuse occurred but said it would be wrong to punish the diocese today for possibly ill-advised decisions made 30 years ago concerning Paquette. The diocese has said it relied on the advice of church psychologists when it hired and retained Paquette.


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