From the Burlington (VT) Free Press, 8.31.2008.
Spotted on the SNAP website and VOTF News.
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Paquette’s therapist a child molester, lawsuit says
A church therapist hired by the state’s Roman Catholic diocese to treat the Rev. Edward Paquette for fondling boys in Burlington in the 1970s was himself a child molester, according to court papers on file in Massachusetts.
The therapist, the Rev. Thomas Kane of Whitinsville, Mass., engaged in sex acts with an Uxbridge, Mass., boy for nine years, beginning in 1968 and ending in 1977, a lawsuit filed by Kane’s alleged victim said.
At the time of the alleged sexual abuse, Kane was executive director of the House of Affirmation in Whitinsville, where Paquette was sent to be treated in 1974 after the Vermont diocese learned he had molested two boys in Rutland.
There is no evidence that then Bishop John Marshall or church officials in Vermont and elsewhere knew of Kane’s alleged sexual misconduct with the Uxbridge boy in the 1970s.
The lawsuit by Kane’s alleged victim was filed in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston in 1993 and was settled out of court two years later for $42,500. The Free Press does not identify the alleged victims of sexual assaults without their consent.
According to court papers, Kane befriended the plaintiff in the case when the person was a 9-year-old altar boy at St. Mary’s Church in Uxbridge in 1968 and first molested him at Kane’s vacation cottage in Upton, Mass.
Over the next nine years, Kane engaged in sex acts with the boy in Kane’s car, at St. Mary’s Church and at other church property in the Worcester area, sometimes after providing wine to the youth, according to the lawsuit.
Kane also once had the boy, at age 14, expose himself to other men at a site along the Charles River in Boston, the lawsuit said.
“Kane purchased a skimpy T-shirt and stretch pants,” the lawsuit said. “Kane dressed plaintiff in the clothing, brought him to Charles River and had him sit on a bench with his legs apart, genitals exposed where passing men could see plaintiff’s exposed genitals.”
Efforts last week to reach the former Uxbridge altar boy and his lawyer were unsuccessful.
The House of Affirmation was closed in 1990, several years after Kane was removed as its executive director for alleged financial improprieties, according to news reports at the time.
Kane could not be reached for comment. He is still a priest associated with the Worcester diocese, but Ray Delisle, a diocesan spokesman, said last week he did not know where Kane was and did not know how to reach him. News reports from 2002 placed him in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“He is a priest without faculties,” Delisle said. “I know that to be the case with him.”
Kane and Paquette
Kane’s treatment of Paquette at the House of Affirmation took place between 1974 and 1978.
It ended when Paquette’s own priestly faculties were suspended by the Vermont diocese after parents of a number of altar boys at Christ the King Church in Burlington complained to Marshall that Paquette had molested their sons.
Marshall knew Paquette had previously molested boys at parishes in Indiana and Massachusetts but decided to hire him in 1972 after being convinced by an Indiana church psychiatrist that Paquette’s sexual deviancy had been cured, according to church records.
Paquette’s sexual abuse of altar boys is the subject of 19 lawsuits on file at Chittenden Superior Court. Four have been resolved through out-of-court settlements or via trial; 15 are pending, including the case that ended in a mistrial last week.
Diocesan documents in the Paquette cases show that Marshall relied heavily on Kane’s advice when it came to deciding whether Paquette should remain a parish priest despite his conduct with altar boys.
“It is my opinion that Father Paquette should return as soon as possible to a parish setting and observe the signals of caution which we have discussed,” Kane wrote to Marshall on Nov. 6, 1974. “It is also strongly recommended that Father Paquette come to see me once a month and he has agreed to this.”
Kane’s letter said Paquette suffered from a “moderate frustration neurosis” and that Paquette’s “immature sexual behavior” was a part of the neurosis.
Paquette, in a separate letter to Marshall sent Nov. 3, 1974, said Kane had been a “tremendous help … All is going well. I am praying that I will be alright.”
Marshall wrote back to Kane on Nov. 13, 1974, that he would follow Kane’s advice “as quickly as possible” and give Paquette a parish assignment.
“I would ask that you keep in mind that he has a rather extensive history,” Marshall wrote. “The reason I mention that fact is that past members of the personnel board … are aware of this problem and this, combined with a future failure, would greatly influence my prudential judgment concerning his remaining in the diocese.”
Over the next 3 1/2 years, diocesan records show, Paquette wrote a series of letters to Marshall indicating he was continuing to see Kane at the House of Affirmation.
Kane did not write Marshall again until March 28, 1978, after parents at Christ the King Church began complaining to Marshall that Paquette was molesting their sons.
“Father Edward O. Paquette presented himself for an interview today and explained the recent situation,” Kane wrote. “I had terminated with Father Paquette on 21 February, 1978 and at that time he stated there was no behavior in the area of the problematic. Obviously, he was not reporting the facts.”
A week later, Marshall wrote back to Kane, telling Kane he was thinking of leaving Paquette at Christ the King despite the complaints and asking Kane for his opinion.
“Despite the demands of two sets of irate parents that ‘something be done about this,’ Father Paquette’s pastor and I are determined to take the risk of leaving him in his present assignment,” Marshall wrote Kane on April 4, 1978.
“Our thinking is that, knowing the awareness of others, concerning his problem, Father Paquette will have reason for ‘self control,” Marshall continued. “Do you agree with this thinking?”
Kane wrote back on April 10 in support of the plan.
“I do agree with your thinking,” Kane wrote. “I do not believe that it is ‘too risky’ to leave Father Paquette in his present assignment but, of course, can make no predictions,” his letter said in part.
By April 18, 1978, increased pressure from parents to do something about Paquette forced Marshall to change his mind.
“The situation had become so explosive that I had no other recourse but to ask Father Paquette to leave the parish immediately,” Marshall explained in a letter to Kane.
Kane past raised at trial
Kane’s alleged sexual abuse while at the House of Affirmation has not been an issue during the clergy abuse trials in Burlington.
Jerome O’Neill, who represents the alleged Paquette victims in the cases, said that’s because there’s no evidence anyone in Vermont — or elsewhere — knew anything about Kane being a possible child molester until many years later.
An aspect of Kane’s past, however did come up briefly when the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a national advocate for victims of clergy abuse, testified in the clergy abuse case that ended last week in a mistrial.
“He’s fraudulent,” Doyle said of Kane while being questioned by diocesan attorney Tom McCormick about Kane’s treatment of Paquette in the 1970s.
“He was still thought of as a legitimate health care professional,” retorted McCormick before continuing on with his questioning.
Doyle, in an interview outside the courtroom, said his fraudulent remark was a reference to evidence found by a Worcester, Mass., newspaper in 2002 that Kane had never gotten the doctorate in psychology degree from University of Birmingham in England that Kane had listed on his professional resume.
The newspaper reported that it had contacted the university and was told the school had no record of Kane attending classes there or obtaining a doctoral degree.
“That doctorate stuff, it’s just phony,” Doyle said.
Contact Sam Hemingway at 660-1850 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org