Eleven Priest Sex Abuse Cases Settled in Vermont

Moments before a trial was set to begin Wednesday in Burlington, Vermont, the state's Roman Catholic diocese agreed to settle 11 priest sexual abuse cases. Negotiations had been going on for "a long time," according to the lead attorney for the victims, but it wasn't until about 30 minutes before the trial was set to begin that the church agreed to the settlement.

Although  terms of the settlement include not releasing the amount of money the church will pay, it is estimated to be in the millions. The diocese released a statement that afternoon saying the payout would not affect its charitable operations. 

While the payout will undoubtedly create financial hardships for the diocese, it could have bankrupted them entirely if they lost, said Tom McCormick, a lawyer for the diocese.

In nine of the 11 cases, altar boys were sexually abused by the Rev. Edward Paquette, who was not named as a defendant. Instead, victims chose to hold the diocese responsible for hiring and harboring Paquette, who already had a "known history" of molesting boys when the church brought him on board in 1972. 

This is the second time in three years that the diocese has had to settle cases related to Paquette's molestation of young boys. In 2010, the diocese agreed to pay a $17.6 million settlement for 26 counts of child molestation by priests; 19 of those lawsuits specifically identified Paquette as the perpetrator.  

And while no amount of money can make up for the suffering of the victims and their family, it's gratifying to see the diocese being held accountable for its actions. It's also a genuine shame that it takes a court of law to make them take responsibility. 

 

 

 

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