Slay suspect's ties to priest, psychologist investigated
Investigators probing the death of a 20-year-old Cape Cod man are seeking to learn whether his accused killer, a convicted child rapist, had a sexual relationship with a priest and psychologist who counseled him in prison and advocated for his release.
Two former workers at the sex offender treatment center where Paul Nolin was incarcerated for 12 years said investigators recently asked them for details of Nolin's relationship with the Rev. Donald A. Turlick, a licensed psychologist who was Nolin's therapist at the center.
Paula Erickson, a former counselor at the Massachusetts Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous in Bridgewater, said she told investigators that Turlick brought in contraband for Nolin, including condoms, silk pajamas, and gold chains, and that it was well known in the facility that Nolin and Turlick were "an item."
A former guard at the facility, who asked not to be named, said he told investigators about an incident involving Turlick and Nolin. He said he once found them together in a treatment room in what seemed to be an intimate moment. Although they were not engaged in a sexual act, the guard said he was concerned enough to notify his supervisor.
This week, a man who served 11 years with Nolin at the Massachusetts Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous told the Globe that Nolin boasted to him that he was having sex with Turlick, and that the therapist planned to help Nolin get freed so that the two could be together.
Turlick has denied having a sexual relationship with Nolin, who also has denied it through his lawyer.
One of Nolin's most vocal defenders since the former inmate was charged last month with the murder of Jonathan Wessner of Falmouth, Turlick is expected to appear today for the first time before a Barnstable County grand jury investigating Wessner's death. The case has drawn statewide attention because of prosecutors' interest in Nolin's relationship with Turlick, 68, and another priest, the Rev. Bernard Kelly, 70, who is expected to testify today for the second time. Prosecutors want to learn more about what Nolin, 39, who socialized with both priests, told each of them in conversations after Wessner disappeared Sept. 20.
Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe declined to comment on the details of the investigation, but said "as a general proposition, police try to learn as much as they can about a potential witness to test the credibility of the witness."
The former prisoner, Fred Wyatt, a convicted child rapist who was released in 1998 and now lives in Ohio, told the Globe in two telephone interviews that in several conversations in 1994 or 1995, Nolin referred to Turlick as his "sugar daddy."
"He was kind of strutting around, bragging about it," said Wyatt. "They were lovers and they were going to stay lovers when he came out." Nolin bragged that Turlick was going to "clear" him because "him and Dr. Turlick were getting it on in therapy," Wyatt said.
Wyatt said he and Nolin discussed Turlick because Wyatt was looking for a psychologist to testify on his behalf. He said Nolin told him Turlick would probably be "fair" to him. Turlick declined to support Wyatt's bid for freedom, Wyatt said.
This week, Kathleen English, a Falmouth attorney acting as Turlick's spokeswoman, said she does not believe Nolin and Turlick had a sexual relationship: "Whether they were or not is something I won't know. I wasn't there," she said. "I just don't think somebody [who committed] the crime of pedophilia would be interested in an old man."
She added that Turlick helped many former sex offenders, "and he wasn't sleeping with all those people. He helped a lot of people in transition coming out of jail. That was part of his mission."
O'Keefe declined to comment on Wyatt's allegations.
Turlick described himself in a Globe interview last month as a friend and mentor to Nolin. Turlick was one of five mental health professionals who testified for Nolin at a 1995 court hearing that paved the way for his eventual release. Turlick said Nolin was faithful to therapy, but it was unclear how pivotal the testimony was in the judge's decision to transfer Nolin from indefinite commitment at the treatment center to a regular prison where he could go free after finishing his sentence.
When Nolin left prison in 2000, he moved to an apartment in Turlick's Mashpee house. Turlick introduced Nolin to Kelly, pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Woods Hole and a fellow graduate of St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore. The three once attended a birthday party for Nolin at Kelly's horse farm in Cummaquid, Turlick's spokeswoman said.
Turlick also helped Nolin find jobs -- including handyman work at Kelly's church -- and a house in Falmouth. Wessner was last seen alive Sept. 20 leaving a party at that house with Nolin.
Turlick said he worked to shepherd Nolin back into society as part of his mission to "see Christ in everyone."
After Nolin's arrest, Turlick told the Cape Cod Times that he was sure Nolin would be exonerated, saying that Nolin took Wessner to see the sun rise from a scenic spot overlooking the harbor.
Investigators focused early on Nolin's relationship with Kelly because the priest initially asserted he was Nolin's pastor and had the right not to divulge conversations he had with Nolin after the murder. Kelly admitted to investigators that he had a sexual relationship with Nolin, according to a law enforcement source. Kelly has declined to speak with reporters about his relationship with Nolin. He was eventually ordered to testify when a judge ruled that some of the pair's conversations were not in a spiritual context. Kelly is set to appear before the grand jury for a second time today.
O'Keefe said yesterday that the investigation had recently broadened to include a probe of "financial dealings at the parish" during Kelly's tenure. O'Keefe would not provide further details on that aspect of the case. But Kelly was suspended from the church last month and resigned last week. And on Tuesday, court records show, the bishop of Fall River filed suit against Kelly in Barstable Superior Court, where a judge granted a motion to attach a lien of $100,000 to Kelly's properties in Berkshire and Barnstable counties.
Kelly's lawyer, Francis O'Boy, said the Fall River Diocese had launched a forensic audit of the parish records after O'Boy informed them of "certain financial irregularities."
"Upon completion of that process, Father Kelly fully intends to make restitution to the diocese for any missing funds," O'Boy said in a prepared statement.
Anne Barnard can be reached at email@example.com.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.