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Church worker is sentenced

Given 2 1/2 years for seeking sex with Woburn teen

By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 3/12/2002

A full-time Catholic church worker in Wilmington, who taught religious education classes to grammar school children and trained altar boys, has been sentenced to 21/2 years in prison for soliciting sex from a teenage boy at his home parish in Woburn.

In January 2000, Paul Merullo, 59, tried to entice a 16-year-old boy from St. Barbara's Church in Woburn to have sex with him, according to court documents. In return, Merullo promised the youth ''sex toys'' and alcohol.

Merullo was a volunteer at St. Barbara's, where he taught CCD classes and trained other church workers, according to the documents. The Rev. Vincent P. Mellone, pastor at St. Barbara's, did not return a call seeking comment.

Merullo pleaded guilty in December and received a 21/2-year sentence, with 18 months to serve. He was also convicted of four counts of possessing child pornography.

After the charges were made public last year, Merullo was suspended from his job as a full-time pastoral associate at St. Thomas of Villanova Church in Wilmington, said the Rev. Phillip B. Earley, the pastor.

He had worked there since the middle 1990s. His duties included visiting sick people and training lectors and communion servers. In years past, he had trained altar boys, but had not done that recently, Earley said.

After Merullo's conviction, Earley said he read a statement about the case at each of the Masses.

Matt Carroll can be reached at

This story ran on page B3 of the Boston Globe on 3/12/2002.
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