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Spotlight Report

Parent alleges deterring by pastor

By Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff, 4/23/2002

The Rev. Ronald Paquin often visited the Facella family.

The Rev. Ronald H. Paquin is the only Boston Archdiocese priest who has pleaded guilty to charges of child sexual abuse.  
Coverage of the Paquin case

The pastor at St. Monica's Church in Methuen rebuffed a father's intent to inform police that the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin had attempted to molest his son five years before Paquin was involved in a fatal accident in which another teenager, whom he had allegedly abused, was killed.

According to a lawsuit filed yesterday in Middlesex Superior Court, John J. Facella, now of Rye, N.H., confronted the Rev. Allen E. Roche, pastor at St. Monica's, in late 1976 with the report that Paquin had allegedly fondled his teenaged son, Anthony, on two occasions the night before at a hotel pool in Hyannis.

Facella said in an interview yesterday that Roche told him that he already knew from other parents about Paquin's alleged misdeeds with youths. Facella added: ''And then [Roche] told me I shouldn't report it to police, that it would come down to Tony's word against a priest, and that with my wife dying at home, I already had too much on my plate.''

Paquin was a familiar presence in the Facella home in Lawrence. He often ate Sunday dinner with the family and helped Anthony and his four sisters with their homework. He even said Mass with the ailing Claire Facella as she lay in her temporary bed in the family living room, months before she died of breast cancer.

Whether Roche alerted the Archdiocese of Boston to reports that Paquin was allegedly molesting youths is at the center of lawsuits filed recently by Boston attorney Jeffrey A. Newman on behalf of several others who, like Anthony Facella, contend they were abused by Paquin.

Newman has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a Haverhill couple whose son was killed in an automobile accident that occurred when Paquin was driving four teenagers home from a two-day vacation in New Hampshire.

James Francis, 16, died in the accident, which occurred on Interstate 93 in Tilton, N.H., on Nov. 28, 1981. Earlier this month, the Globe quoted three individuals - a former Methuen police officer, a priest, and another alleged victim - as saying they believed that Roche relayed complaints about Paquin's conduct to the archdiocese before 1981.

Roche died in 1998, eight years after he retired as pastor of St. Monica's. Donna M. Morrissey, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, did not return phone calls yesterday but in the past has declined to comment on Paquin because of the litigation involving him.

Paquin, who has retired as a priest, did not return phone calls.

Newman has issued a subpoena to the archdiocese for its records on Paquin to determine if and when Roche informed church officials about Paquin. Newman said he expects to secure the documents next month.

John Facella recalled yesterday his conversation with Roche the day he learned Paquin had twice allegedly fondled his son at a Hyannis hotel pool. ''He told me that he had complaints from others and that he would take care of it himself,'' Facella said.

And Facella said Roche discouraged him from notifying the police about the incident, saying that any criminal case would come down to his son's word against a priest, ''and who's going to trust a kid's word over a priest's,'' Facella said, quoting Roche.

Stephen Kurkjian can be reached at

This story ran on page A12 of the Boston Globe on 4/23/2002.
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