ALFRED, Maine — A defrocked Roman Catholic priest who was a central figure in the clergy abuse scandal that rocked the Archdiocese of Boston was convicted Thursday of sexually abusing another boy.
Ronald Paquin, who was released from prison in 2015, was convicted of assaulting a boy in the 1980s in Kennebunkport, Maine.
The victim, now an adult, told reporters after the verdict that Paquin was “pure evil,” thanking jurors for doing “the right thing.”
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Two men testified Paquin befriended them as boys at a parish in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and invited them on trips that included visits to Kennebunkport, Maine. They said he gave them alcohol, and let them drive his car without a license. One of them testified he was drugged.
Both said Paquin repeatedly assaulted them, but the jury reached a guilty verdict on counts involving only one of the victims. In the end, Paquin was convicted of 11 of the 24 counts against him.
David Clohessy, former national director of the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests, said the conviction was “long overdue.”
“I feel sad that one of the victims was disbelieved, and that must hurt. But overall, kids will be safer, and hopefully, victims of other predators will feel inspired to come forward and report their abuse,” he said.
In court, Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Heimbach told jurors this case “is about a priest who planned, plied and perpetrated.”
[Maine schools step up efforts to prevent sexual abuse of children]
But defense attorney Roger Champagne said the graphic testimony from the two men was “fluff” aimed at distracting them from the lack of physical evidence or witness testimony placing the boys in Maine in the 1980s.
Paquin previously spent more than a decade in a Massachusetts prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting an altar boy. He was released in 2015, and was taken into custody in Maine last year.
The Boston Globe reported Paquin admitted to medical evaluators that he abused at least 14 boys and said he was also abused as a child.
He was a key figure in a scandal that started in the Boston Archdiocese and rocked the church globally, which was featured in the movie “Spotlight” about the Boston Globe team that uncovered the abuse.
[Bishop accused of mishandling sex abuse cases in Maine before transfer to New York]
During the trial, several people testified about seeing Paquin with boys at a campground in Kennebunkport.
None saw anything inappropriate but one said she wondered why the boys stayed inside a trailer on a hot day instead of going to a pool or to the beach. She was told the boys liked to play Monopoly.
Clohessy said people shouldn’t assume that serial abusers like Paquin become less of a threat as they age. In fact, he said, they can become worse because they appear to be less of a threat to children.
“The simple fact is that children are protected when child molesters are jailed. And today we’re one step closer to that,” he said.
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