April 26, 2005

DA eyes plea deal with accused priest

Boston Herald

By Thomas Caywood
Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - Updated: 03:12 AM EST

Worcester District Attorney John Conte said yesterday his office will try to negotiate a plea agreement with an elderly priest extradited from Canada after a three-year court battle.

``Most of the victims are in agreement with what we are about to do,'' the DA said, later adding, ``They feel there is a certain amount of closure in bringing Rev. Desilets back.''

Conte wouldn't elaborate on the kind of deal he's contemplating other than to say he will seek jail time for the Rev. Paul Desilets, who was arraigned yesterday via closed-circuit television from the Worcester County House of Correction.

Desilets pleaded innocent through his lawyer to nearly three dozen counts of molesting 18 altar boys at a Bellingham church in the 1970s and early 1980s. The 82-year-old retired Catholic clergyman looked frail and bewildered on the courtroom television screen with his mouth agape and his eyes wandering.

The elderly priest was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail. One of his lawyers told the judge Desilets couldn't make bail.

The statute of limitation on his alleged crimes didn't run out as was the case with other accused priests because Desilets left the country to retire in his native Canada. He fought extradition for three years in the Canadian courts before unexpectedly giving up and agreeing to return last week.

Posted by kshaw at April 26, 2005 08:51 AM