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Vermont Diocese Aims To Settle Abuse Lawsuit

Sep 29, 2003 | AP

Roman Catholic Church officials in Vermont are negotiating a possible settlement in a lawsuit filed by a former North Adams, Mass., city councilor and Berkshire County commissioner who alleges he was abused as a teenager by a priest in the late 1980s.

Paul Babeu, 34, now living in Arizona, claims he was 15 when the Rev. George Paulin, most recently a Ludlow pastor before resigning this year, abused him on an overnight visit to Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.

The New Yorker magazine reported last year that former Massachusetts priest Richard Lavigne, a convicted child molester, drove Babeu to Vermont to leave him alone with Paulin. Babeu has also filed a suit in Massachusetts against the Diocese of Springfield alleging he was abused by Lavigne.

The diocese's lawyer, William M. O'Brien of Winooski, said he hoped at least three other lawsuits would also be settled.

"We are anxious to resolve every case," O'Brien said.

Babeu was a North Adams city councilor from 1987 to 1989 and served as a Berkshire County commissioner between 1993 and 1997.

Babeu said family members reported the incident to then Vermont Catholic Bishop John Marshall, who responded in a letter to them dated March 13, 1987: "I was disappointed and disturbed in learning about the allegations against" Paulin, "inasmuch as I have never heard any rumor, innuendo or complaint directly or indirectly that would indicate that he possessed pedophilic tendencies."

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