Diocese Ignored Sex Abuse Claims Against Priest: Vermont

by John McKiggan

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Vermont has been sued over allegations that the Bishop ignored previous allegations of sexual abuse when the Diocese hired Rev. Edward Paquette.

In a trial that started this week, Monsignor John McSweeney, who was chancellor of the Vermont diocese and handled details of hiring priests for then-Bishop John Marshall in the 1970s, testified that he did not know about such allegations until he reviewed church documents recently.

The documents, which chronicle the steps the Vermont diocese took while considering whether to hire Paquette in 1972, include several mentions of the alleged misconduct in letters from out-of-state church officials to McSweeney.

“Wasn’t that a red flag for you to say the diocese ought to take a look at this,” plaintiff lawyer Jerome O’Neill asked McSweeney.

“In retrospect, yes,” McSweeney said.

You can read more about the trial here.

I have mentioned this case before. In a stunning example of hypocrisy, the Diocese of Vermont had threatened to sue Indiana’s Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese for failing to disclose prior complaints of sexual abuse against Paquette. The response from Indiana was: “We told you so, and you hired him anyway.”

Testimony this week apparently confirms that Paquette’s history of sexual abuse allegations had been disclosed to the Diocese of Vermont when Paquette was hired.

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