February 18, 2005

Desilets is likely to return

Telegram & Gazette

Kathleen A. Shaw Telegram & Gazette Staff

WORCESTER— The extradition of the Rev. Paul M. Desilets, who was indicted in 2002 by a Worcester grand jury in the alleged sexual abuse of 18 young men and boys in Bellingham, moved closer last week when the Quebec Court of Appeal upheld a decision by the justice minister to allow him to be ordered back to Massachusetts to face charges.

District Attorney John J. Conte said yesterday that Rev. Desilets has the right to appeal the decision to the Canadian Supreme Court.

Rev. Desilets, 81, had attempted to avoid deportation from Quebec but the appeals court in Montreal upheld Justice Minister Irvin Cotler’s May decision to extradite the priest to the United States. The judgment was rendered on Feb. 9, according to a spokesman for the appeals court.

Mr. Conte, who first sought extradition on Aug. 22, 2002, said yesterday he was informed of the Canadian court decision through the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., which initiated the extradition proceedings at his request.

The priest was indicted here on 16 charges of indecent assault and battery on a person under 14, 10 charges of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14, and 10 charges of assault and battery, Mr. Conte said.

Rev. Desilets was a priest at Our Lady of the Assumption parish, Bellingham, when the alleged incidents happened between Sept. 1, 1978, and Aug. 31, 1984. Bellingham is in the Boston Archdiocese, but the town is in Mr. Conte’s district.

Canadian police arrested Rev. Desilets in October 2002 at the request of American authorities. He faces no charges in Canada. Rev. Desilets, a member of the Order of St. Viateur, moved to Canada in 1984. He was living at a retirement home for clergy in Joliette, Quebec. He has diabetes and suffers from the effects of polio that he had as a child.

Mr. Conte was successful in extraditing another priest from Canada to face criminal sexual abuse charges. The Rev. Joseph A. Fredette was sent back to Worcester in 1995 from New Brunswick by order of a Canadian court. He had fled to Canada in the 1970s after Worcester police issued a warrant for his arrest over alleged sexual abuse of boys in his care at the former Come Alive program for troubled teenagers.

Posted by kshaw at February 18, 2005 08:00 AM