May 30, 2002

BOSTON (AP) - Cardinal Bernard F. Law reinstated a problem priest despite numerous allegations of child molestation, The Boston Globe reported Thursday.

Internal church documents showed such a clear pattern of alleged abuse by the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin, 59, that officials once recommended he be defrocked, though they later changed their minds, the Globe reported.

``I know that there have been some very difficult moments for you,'' Law wrote Paquin in a July 11, 1998, letter. ``I trust that your own continued vigilance and support of competent professionals will allow you to begin a new phase of ministry in the (Boston) Archdiocese.''

Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna M. Morrissey declined to comment on the report, citing ongoing litigation.

Paquin was removed from parish work in 1990 after allegations of sexual misconduct, sent for treatment and then lived at a home for problem priests. Internal church documents showed that between 1990 and 1996, 13 more complaints of alleged misconduct over the previous two decades were received. The church settled six of the 13 cases for more than $500,000, the Globe reported.

A church panel recommended in 1994 that Paquin leave the priesthood. But in 1997, it voted to let him work again as a priest as long it did not put him in contact with minors, the Globe reported.

He was reinstated in 1998, assigned to work as a hospital chaplain and warned that he could not work with minors, the newspaper said.

Paquin was finally removed in 2000, after the archdiocese received five new complaints from men who said they had been abused by Paquin in the 1970s and 1980s, documents show. In December 2000, Law wrote the Vatican asking that Paquin be defrocked.

Paquin was indicted May 15 on three counts of rape of a child, and is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail. He has pleaded innocent.

Paquin's 1998 reinstatement came just six months after Law defrocked the Rev. John J. Geoghan, whose child molestation conviction sparked the current priest sex abuse scandal. Dozens of priests out of more than 47,000 nationwide have been suspended or forced to resign, and priests' names have been turned over to prosecutors.

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