Former Massachusetts priest reindicted on Maine sex abuse charges

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The York County grand jury has reindicted a former priest from Massachusetts who is accused of repeatedly sexually abusing two boys he brought to Maine in the 1980s.

Ronald Paquin

Ronald Paquin now faces 31 counts of sexual abuse in York County. He was originally indicted in February on 29 counts of sexual abuse for acts he allegedly committed in the mid- to late 1980s when he brought the boys to Maine for “short-term stays,” Kennebunk Police Chief Craig Sanford said at the time Paquin was charged. Sanford would not say where the alleged abuse occurred, other than to describe it as “a seasonal location,” or provide any other information on the charges.

Paquin, 74, has been held at the York County Jail since he was arrested and formally charged in February.

Paquin, who was removed from the priesthood in 2002, was a key figure in the Massachusetts priest sex abuse scandal in the early 2000s and pleaded guilty in 2002 to repeatedly raping a Haverhill, Massachusetts, altar boy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, beginning when the boy was 12. Paquin was jailed in Massachusetts until 2015, when specialists said he no longer met the criteria to be considered sexually dangerous.

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Keith Townsend told The Boston Globe in February that he was one of the victims of the alleged crimes listed in the Maine indictment and said he told Maine authorities about Paquin when he heard that the former priest had been released from prison in Massachusetts. He told the Globe that Paquin began abusing him when he was 8 or 9 years old, both in Massachusetts and also at a camp in Kennebunk.

There is no statute of limitations in Maine on sexual abuse of minors.

Kathryn Slattery, the York County district attorney, did not return calls seeking comment.

Heather Gonzales, Paquin’s court-appointed lawyer, said the two additional charges apparently came about after prosecutors met Townsend to try to provide more specific dates on the alleged offenses in Maine. That resulted in two more counts being added and led to the reindictment, she said.

The indictment covers alleged sexual abuse that took place between early 1986 and late 1988. It lists broad date ranges of a month or more for each of the counts.

Taking young boys on out-of-state trips was a common tactic among priests who committed sexual abuse, Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who represented many victims of sexual abuse by priests, said at the time that Paquin was initially charged in Maine. He said the parents of the boys often thought that the offer by a priest to take a boy on such a trip was an honor and the parents would think there was something wrong with their child if he resisted subsequent offers of trips.

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