April 25, 2005

Former Mass. priest pleads innocent to abuse charges


By Adam Gorlick, Associated Press Writer | April 25, 2005

WORCESTER, Mass. -- A retired priest extradited from Canada to face sex abuse charges pleaded innocent Monday to molesting altar boys at a Bellingham parish in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Rev. Paul M. Desilets, 81, was returned to Massachusetts last week after he dropped an appeal of his extradition before Canada's highest court.

Desilets, who is diabetic and suffers from an illness caused by childhood polio, participated in the arraignment by videoconference from the Worcester County Jail.

He did not speak and his lawyer entered innocent pleas to 16 counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, 10 counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 and six counts of assault and battery.

The judge ordered him held on $100,000 bail and scheduled a court appearance for May 13.

District Attorney John Conte said he was trying to work out a plea deal that would include jail time and that he has discussed it with some of Desilets' alleged victims.

"We have talked to nine victims," he said. "Most are in agreement with what we are about to do."

Posted by kshaw at April 25, 2005 08:20 PM