Former Mass. Priest Faces New Abuse Charges in Maine

The Salem News reports that a former Catholic priest who was at the center of the Boston Archdiocese sex scandal in 2002 is facing new charges of sexual abuse in Maine that date back to the 1980s.

On Monday, a grand jury in Maine indicted former priest Ronald Paquin, 74, of Massachusetts on 29 counts of gross sexual misconduct, said Craig Sanford, police chief in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Sanford said the criminal acts took place in the late 1980s at seasonal locations in Kennebunkport. The victims, both males, were 11 and 14 when Paquin began abusing them, police said.

“I am glad that we were able to present a case that hopefully brings the victims some type of peace in their future and holds the offender accountable for these horrific crimes,” Sanford said.

A warrant will be issued for Paquin’s arrest, after which he will be returned to Maine for eventual court proceedings, according to Sanford.

Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, said he was not at liberty to comment because the case in Maine is pending.

Paquin’s whereabouts were not immediately known, so he could not be reached for comment.

Paquin was released from prison in October 2015, after pleading guilty in 2003 to raping and molesting an altar boy in Massachusetts as many as 50 times from 1989 to 1992.

The story of Paquin and other clergy jailed in the sexual abuse scandal of the Boston Archdiocese was portrayed in the 2015 Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight.”

Keith Townsend, 42, of Seabrook, N.H., said he was sexually abused by Paquin while serving as an altar boy at St. John the Baptist in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Townsend, who helped with the Maine investigation, called the indictment a “big win” for all of Paquin’s victims.

Although Paquin has been charged for similar crimes, these are new allegations.

“Although he was convicted of abusing one boy, he admitted to having abused 14 others,” Townsend said.

The Eagle-Tribune does not name victims of sexual assaults unless they come forward on their own, as Townsend did.

Townsend said that in 2011, he participated in a taped interview with Maine authorities where he talked about being abused by Paquin at a seasonal campground in Kennebunkport, where he said Paquin kept a camping trailer. He said the abuse started at age 8 and continued until age 12.

“On the way to Maine, we’d stop at the state liquor store and he’d buy us wine coolers, beer and other things,” Townsend said. “We’d binge drink at his camp, but he’d never drink. He (would) give us the keys to the parish’s SUV and I’d drive it around Biddeford and Kennebunkport with my friends while he was back at the camp with someone who was left behind. Then he would tell someone else to take the vehicle and someone else would stay behind.”

Townsend said he contacted Maine authorities again in 2015, prior to Paquin’s release from prison.

“I told them I was ready to testify against Paquin if I had to,” he said. “If I have to get up there to protect other people I will, as this is not about me any more. It’s about other victims getting the help they deserve.”

Paquin was “laicized,” or dismissed, as a member of the clergy by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston in 2004.

Although suspected of targeting victims for decades, by the time of his arrest in May 2002, only one case in which Paquin was accused of sexual molestation fell within the state’s statute of limitations.

That victim, the former St. John the Baptist altar boy who was then in his 20s, said Paquin tricked him into a three-year sexual relationship by suggesting their acts together were part of a study Paquin was conducting into the sexuality of young boys.

Paquin also was named in 24 civil lawsuits alleging he sexually abused other children while serving at churches in Methuen and Haverhill, Massachusetts, during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

Kelly Townsend, 48, of Haverhill said her brother Keith wants Paquin off the streets and is looking for justice for those who Paquin abused.

“He needs to be back in jail,” she said. “I hope other victims will come forward and be heard.”

Mitchell Garabedian, the Boston attorney who has represented a dozen Paquin sexual abuse victims, said all the victims were male and between the ages of 10-16, and some were repeatedly abused over years-long periods.

Garabedian said that one of his clients, a man who is currently residing outside of the United States and who wishes to remain anonymous, was happy to learn about Paquin’s indictment and hopes Paquin will spend additional time in jail.

“It’s hard for me to believe he was released in the first place, considering the long record of crimes he committed,” the man told The Eagle-Tribune. “I can only hope that they will keep him in jail for the rest of his life. He is clearly a threat.”

The man said he was abused by Paquin at St. John the Baptist in Haverhill during the early 1980s, when he was a teenager.

In March of 2015, just months prior to his release, lawyers for the Essex County District Attorney’s office filed a motion to label Paquin as a sexually dangerous person, a move that could have kept the convicted pedophile priest in jail beyond his planned release.

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