The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Ex-priest Paquin held in rape case

$750,000 bail is set for Shanley

By Sacha Pfeiffer and Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff, 5/8/2002

In a dizzying confluence of events yesterday, the Rev. Paul R. Shanley was ordered held on $750,000 bail for three counts of child rape, just hours before police arrested a former priest on an identical charge - all on the eve of Cardinal Bernard F. Law's scheduled pretrial testimony today about his role in allowing priests who abused children to remain in assignments.

Law, who will be the first US cardinal forced to testify under oath about his oversight of priests who had molested minors, decided against seeking a delay to testimony that was ordered just Monday afternoon.

After Shanley's return from San Diego in shackles and his arraignment in the morning, former priest Ronald H. Paquin was arrested at his Malden apartment about 4:30 p.m. and charged with one count of rape of a child under 16. Shanley was arrested in San Diego on April 30.

For Shanley, high bail was set after a prosecutor warned he might flee the country. Paquin was arrested before his expected indictment because police thought he was about to leave the area. Law was given only 40 hours' notice for his deposition after Suffolk Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney expressed concern he might leave for Rome and not return.

Essex District Attorney Kevin M. Burke said the charge against Paquin involved at least 50 incidents with a young boy between 1990 and 1992 in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. The first alleged incident took place when the boy was 12.

Paquin, 59, who has admitted in interviews that he molested minors, was removed from active ministry in 1990 by the Boston archdiocese, which has paid settlements to at least four alleged victims. He was laicized in 2000.

Paquin was held last night at the Danvers State Police barracks and will be arraigned this morning in Haverhill District Court.

Alleged victims of Paquin said they were relieved he had finally been arrested.

''It's about time,'' said Robert Bartlett, 40, who received a monetary settlement from the archdiocese for abuse he suffered by Paquin over four years while he was an altar boy at St. Monica's Church in Methuen during the 1970s. ''The trail of destruction he has left is immense, just immense.''

Paquin's arrest, he added, ''helps to validate that what was done was wrong. As long as he was a free man, you knew it was wrong, but you don't see the justice.''

Meanwhile, Shanley, Boston's famed former ''street priest,'' was ordered held on $750,000 bail by Newton District Judge Dyanne J. Klein after a Middlesex prosecutor warned that he posed ''a tremendous risk of flight.''

Clad in jeans and a red, collared shirt, Shanley, 71, pleaded not guilty to charges that he repeatedly raped a Newton boy, Paul Busa, for several years during the 1980s.

Presented with evidence that in recent years Shanley tried to conceal his address and leave the country, Klein also ordered Shanley, should he post bail, to surrender his passport, remain in Massachusetts, and have no contact with children under 16.

For all the drama in Klein's courtroom yesterday, Law's testimony today will be without precedent as he walks past cameras - as it appears he will have to do - into a closed Suffolk Superior courtroom for his deposition.

Law, along with five bishops who served under him at various times, is accused in several civil lawsuits of negligence for transferring a known priest pedophile, John J. Geoghan, to a new parish in 1984 and allowing him to remain there for another eight years.

Law's testimony is slated to begin at 9 a.m. The deposition will be closed to the press and public, but videotaped by the court in case Law is not available for a future trial. Sweeney has said she will be available to rule on what she believes will be numerous objections.

Sweeney said she accelerated the date of the deposition, rejecting a request by Law's attorney that he be given the standard seven-day notice, because of her concerns that Law might leave for Rome if the proceeding was further delayed.

She issued her order at an emergency hearing requested by Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer for 70 victims of Geoghan and 16 of their relatives, after the archdiocese backed out of a multimillion-dollar settlement with those victims on Friday.

Garabedian said he expects to spend four or five days questioning Law. And his legal adversary this time will not just be Wilson Rogers Jr., the church's lawyer, but also two outside lawyers who will represent Law as his personal counsel. They are J. Owen Todd, a former Superior Court judge, and Ian Crawford, Todd's partner.

The lawyer for the Geoghan victims said he will probe the cardinal's memory to learn when in 1984 Law was first told that Geoghan had admitted to molesting seven boys in one extended family in 1980; why he took no action against Geoghan at that time; why he reassigned Geoghan to St. Julia's Church in Weston knowing about his sexual attraction to young children; and why Law and his subordinates continued to allow Geoghan near children.

Garabedian said he also plans to question Law about the archdiocese's practices regarding assignments of priests who had molested children, as well as actions Law took with regard to other child molesters, including Shanley.

At Shanley's arraignment, his lawyer, Frank Mondano, asked that Shanley be released on personal recognizance, and later called Klein's ruling excessive. He noted that Shanley was arrested at the same San Diego apartment where he had lived for three years, and had made no attempt to flee even though he had known for several months that investigators in Boston were probing allegations against him.

But Middlesex assistant district attorney Lynne Rooney said ''circumstances have changed dramatically'' since Shanley's alleged history of abuse was disclosed by the Globe in January. Before last week, most of the complaints about him were believed to be outside the statute of limitations and could not be prosecuted, Rooney said. But the allegations that led to Shanley's arrest are well within the statute.

Indeed, Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley made clear at a press conference last week that police moved quickly to arrest Shanley due to concerns he might try to leave the country. And Rooney noted that Shanley traveled to Thailand in March for an unspecified length of time.

Rooney also read from several letters from the 1990s in which Shanley discussed with Boston church officials moving to Costa Rica or Mexico, and asked that his address be kept secret.

Attending the arraignment were Kevin and Michael O'Toole, whose late brother, Bill, was allegedly abused by Shanley when he was a boy growing up in Stoneham and attending St. Patrick's Church, where Shanley was assigned in the 1960s.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Kevin O'Toole called Shanley ''a heinous monster that for some reason the archdiocese of Boston decided it was going to let run free and unimpeded for a very, very, very long time.''

In Paquin's case, Essex County investigators moved in on him sooner than they had wanted. According to law enforcement sources, prosecutors in Burke's office had been methodically building a case to take before a grand jury to obtain an indictment against Paquin.

But when Burke's office was notified yesterday afternoon that a moving van was parked outside Paquin's Malden home, investigators feared he was preparing to leave Massachusetts.

At a press conference yesterday, Burke said the charges against Paquin, which carry up to a life sentence, relate to oral sex on as many as 50 different occasions over the two-year period. Much of the abuse took place in a cemetery in Haverhill, where Paquin allegedly raped the boy in a car, Burke said. At the time of the alleged rapes, Paquin was assigned to St. John the Baptist Church in Haverhill.

After an account of Paquin's alleged assaults appeared in the Globe in March, Jeffrey Newman, the victim's lawyer, brought him to Burke's office for an interview with State Police.

''I knew that the statute of limitations had not tolled, so I knew it was important that he talk to the State Police,'' said Newman, who represents several additional alleged victims of Paquin.

''All my 12 clients are extremely pleased the district attorney's office has gone forward and they are serious about prosecuting Paquin, even though it happened a long time ago,'' said Newman. ''It's important in the process to see that the perpetrator is brought to justice.''

Sacha Pfeiffer can be reached at Matt Carroll, Stephen Kurkjian and Walter V. Robinson of the Globe Staff and Globe correspondent Caroline Cole contributed to this story.

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 5/8/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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