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Former priest Paquin arrested in Malden
By Associated Press and Boston.com Staff, 05/07/02
DANVERS, Mass. -- A retired priest who once acknowledged in a newspaper interview that he had "fooled around" with boys was arrested and charged Tuesday with raping a child, prosecutors said.
Law enforcement officials said they obtained a warrant for rape and abuse of a child under 16 after receiving a tip that the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin would flee. A television station showed footage of workers loading furniture into a truck in front of Paquin's residence.
Essex County District Attorney Kevin Burke said the charge involved more than 50 incidents with a boy about 12 years old between January 1990 and January 1992. The assaults allegedly happened in a cemetery and in or near an automobile. Burke said that Paquin also assaulted the victim in New Hampshire, Maine and Canada.
"Based on information we received today, we acted immediately," Burke said.
The incidents took place while Paquin was associate pastor at St. John's Parish in Haverhill, Burke said.
Paquin was arrested at his home in Malden and was to be arraigned Wednesday in Haverhill. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney.
Jeffrey Newman, a civil attorney who represents 12 alleged victims, said his clients were "pleased" that Paquin was arrested.
Newman said the man who filed the criminal complaint that led to Paquin's arrest approached him a month ago.
"We spoke for several hours, and it became apparent that not only did he have a civil claim, but he was one of the few Paquin victims who fell within the criminal statute for rape," Newman told New England Cable News.
Donna Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Boston, said she had no immediate comment.
The archdiocese removed Paquin from active service at St. John the Baptist Church in Haverhill in 1990, after allegations surfaced he had molested boys there. The church has paid settlements to at least four of his alleged victims.
In an interview with The Boston Globe in January, Paquin admitted he had molested boys in Methuen and Haverhill. He insisted the abuse stopped when he was sent for treatment in 1990.
"Sure, I fooled around. But I never raped anyone and I never felt gratified myself," Paquin said in a January Globe interview. "I've gone 12 years and haven't abused anyone, so I'm not a pedophile because I'm not a predator."
Paquin is also accused in a lawsuit of abusing a teen-age boy while he was in a treatment center for wayward priests. He has denied the allegations.
In an interview with the Globe, Paquin described his accuser as a "close friend." He said he and the boy had been sexually involved.
Soon after the church transferred him from Methuen to Haverhill in 1981, Paquin attracted public attention again. In November 1981, the car he was driving rolled over on a New Hampshire interstate, killing James M. Francis, one of four Haverhill teenagers who had accompanied him on a weekend outing.
Francis' family alleges Paquin fell asleep at the wheel after a night of sex and alcohol with Francis. Paquin is named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family.
Around 1990, Paquin was removed from St. John the Baptist Church in Haverhill after the archdiocese was told he had molested children there, according to both Paquin and Sheila A. Francis, the dead boy's mother.
According to a 1981 account of the accident in the Haverhill Gazette, Paquin planned the outing as a reward to the four boys, who had helped launch a church youth group. Paquin told the newspaper they were "originally planning to spend only one night at the private chalet in Bethlehem, but because the boys enjoyed it so much, they decided to stay Friday night as well."
According to archdiocesan directories, Paquin was working as a chaplain in 1999. In the most recent directory, which includes retired priests, Paquin's name has been removed.
From about 1990 to 1998, Paquin is listed as "unassigned," "awaiting assignment," or on "sick leave."
And although public church documents don't reflect it, other public records show that Paquin lived for a time at Our Lady's Hall in Milton, a retreat house for alcoholic priests that church officials have acknowledged also provides "transitional housing" for priests who have been removed from parishes following allegations or admissions of sexual misconduct.
Paquin, who was ordained in 1973, started his career at St. Monica's, where he was in charge of the altar boys, Boy Scouts, and Catholic Youth Organization, church directories show. Paquin began abusing young boys immediately, according to Jack Regan, the father of one of Paquin's alleged victims.
Like Geoghan before him, Paquin said in the January interview with the Globe the church is now moving to defrock him, and he expressed bitterness at the way the church has treated him -- even after the archdiocese acknowledged knowing that he had been molested by his own hometown priest.
Paquin's name surfaces among the thousands of pages of church documents filed in connection with the 84 civil lawsuits against Geoghan, which were made public in January after a legal motion by the Globe.
Material from the Boston Globe was used in this report.
© Copyright 2002 Boston Globe Electronic Publishing Inc.