Vermont Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
Representing Survivors of Child & Adult Clergy Abuse
If you were sexually abused by a member of the Catholic Church in Vermont, you may have grounds to pursue legal action and a financial recovery of your damages.
In recent years, legal filings and high-profile payouts have revealed evidence of rampant sexual abuse within Vermont Catholic Churches dating back decades. The evidence also shows that Church officials overwhelmingly failed to stop abusive priests and protect children.
Now, thanks to a groundbreaking Vermont law that eliminates the statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits, survivors are stepping forward in increasing numbers to hold the Church accountable.
Levy Konigsberg is an award-winning trial practice known nationally for litigating sexual abuse lawsuits against powerful institutions and religious organizations. If you have questions about a potential case, we want to help. Our firm represents survivors across Vermont and offers FREE and confidential consultations. Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online to speak with an attorney.
Vermont Law Gives Child Sex Abuse Survivors New Opportunities to File Suit
In 2019, Vermont lawmakers passed H. 330, an historic measure that completely removed the time limits for child sexual abuse survivors to file civil lawsuits.
Hailed as one of the strongest statute of limitations reforms for victims in the country, Vermont’s law was intended to account for the fact that sexual abuse survivors abused as minors often take years or decades to process their abuse and the effects abuse has had on their lives.
Under Vermont’s sexual abuse law:
- There is no statute of limitations for civil actions based on childhood sexual abuse, which means survivors can file lawsuits no matter how much time has elapsed since they were abused.
- The statute of limitations elimination is fully retroactive, which means that child sex abuse survivors can file lawsuits over abuse that occurred at any time in the past, including claims that were previously time-barred.
- The law allows victims to sue institutions, organizations, or companies that permitted or perpetuated child sexual abuse.
For survivors who were sexually abused in Vermont Catholic Churches, Vermont’s new law provide important opportunities to hold the Diocese of Burlington accountable for its failures.
Our sexual abuse team at Levy Konigsberg has helped numerous survivors file claims under survivor-friendly legislation like H. 330. If you have questions about a potential case and whether you have grounds to file a claim, our Vermont Catholic Church sexual abuse lawyers are here to help.
Legal Filings, Public Settlements Provide Insight into Scope of Child Sex Abuse within Vermont Catholic Churches
The dark legacy of sexual abuse within Vermont’s Catholic Churches has been documented in numerous legal filings, public record releases, and high-profile payouts.
These filings and settlements involve abuse that occurred throughout Vermont’s 125 Catholic parishes and focused on claims that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Vermont, which serves as the Diocese for all of Vermont, failed to protect children by willfully covering up for priests.
Some examples include:
- In May 2022, the Burlington Diocese agreed to settle a lawsuit involving a survivor who was sexually abused by Father Roger W. Carlin in 1966 and 1967 when he was a nine-year-old altar boy at St. John Vianney in South Burlington. Carlin, who died in 1980 and served in the Diocese over a 20-year period, was reportedly not one of the roughly 40 priests identified by the Diocese as a credibly accused abuser.
- In May 2021, a lawsuit was filed against the Burlington Diocese by a survivor who was sexually abused as a young boy in the 1970s by Father Leo Courcy, who was included in the Diocese’s 2019 release of credibly accused priests. The lawsuit alleged that the Church, which knew that Courcy had been treated for psychosis and psychosexual issues in the late 1960s, negligently employed the priest and assigned him to parishes throughout the country.
- In December 2018, the Burlington Diocese reached a settlement with a survivor who was sexually abused by Father Alfred Willis while he was an altar boy at St. Ann in Milton. Willis, who was dismissed from ministry in 1985, had served as a deacon at St. Anthony in Burlington and assistant pastor at St. Augustine in Montpelier in the mid-1970s before he was transferred to Milton in 1979 after the Diocese received abuse reports. He was removed one year later.
- In January 2013, the Burlington Diocese reached a settlement with a survivor who was sexually abused in 1974 by Rev. Edward Paquette, a priest identified in 19 of the more than two dozen suits previously settled by the Church in 2010. The suit claimed that the Diocese hired Paquette in 1972 despite knowing his history of abuse in Indiana and Massachusetts.
- In May 2010, the Diocese of Burlington agreed to pay $20 million settle priest sex abuse lawsuits brought by 26 different survivors who claimed that the Diocese repeatedly hired abusive priests and protected them by assigning them to different parishes.
Burlington Diocese’s List of Credibly Accused Vermont Priests
In 2019, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington released a list of priests who had been credibly accused of child sexual abuse. The list included the names of 40 priests who had faced at least one allegation that was either plausible or probable, corroborated by evidence or another source, or acknowledged/admitted to by the accused. Because the list included just 40 names of the more than 400 priests who had been assigned to the Burlington Diocese since the 1950s, experts believe there are likely many more abusers who have not been publicly identified by the Church.
The Diocese has publicized its report in full, but you can view a condensed list of the 40 credibly accused priests below:
- Robert J. Baffa — Served in Vermont 1966-2002; deceased
- Donald A. Bean — Served in Vermont 1970-1994; deceased
- James E. Beauregard — Served in Vermont 1970-1999; deceased
- Conrad A. Bessette — Served in Vermont 1973-1990; living
- Paul M. Bresnahan — Served in Vermont 1954-2002; deceased
- Donald A. Bruneau — Served in Vermont 1954-1994; deceased
- James J. Campbell — Served in Vermont 1962-1965; presumed dead
- Leo J. Courcy Jr. — Served in Vermont 1962-February 1965, February to December 1966, and January to May 1971; living
- Robert E Devoy — Served in Vermont 1903-1955; deceased
- Joseph H. Dussault — Served in Vermont 1934-1978; deceased
- John F. Eastman — Served in Vermont 1946-1953; presumed dead
- James F. Foley — Served in Vermont 1949-1979; deceased
- Edward C. Foster — Served in Vermont 1951-1967 and 1990-1991; deceased
- William P. Gallagher — Served in Vermont 1965-2002; deceased
- Edward J. Gelineau — Served in Vermont 1942-1990; deceased
- John A. Guischard — Served in Vermont 1968-1991; deceased
- John B. "Jack" Kenney — Served in Vermont 1957-1966 and 1994-1997; living
- Dennis J. LaRoche — Served in Vermont 1987-1992; living
- Michael K. Madden — Served in Vermont 1970-1988; deceased
- Charles G. Many — Served in Vermont ministry 1981-1986, Edmundite Generalate 1986-1994; living
- James J. McShane Jr. — Served in Vermont 1966-2002; living
- Brian E. Mead — Served in Vermont 1969-2002; living
- Walter D. Miller — Served in Vermont 1961-1966 and 1974-2004; deceased
- Joseph Maxime Mooney — Served in Vermont 1917-1956; deceased
- George O. Murtagh — Served in Vermont 1950-1958 and 1963-1987; deceased
- Stephen J. Nichols — Served in Vermont 1986-2007; living
- Edward O. Paquette — Served in Vermont 1972-1978; living
- George A. Paulin — Served in Vermont 1970 -2003; living
- Raymond C. Provost — Served in Vermont 1936-1975, but continued to help in Winooski parishes until 1995; deceased
- Daniel F. Roberts — Served in Vermont 1946-1980; deceased
- Forest W. Rouelle — Served in Vermont 1956-1998; deceased
- Emile W. Savary — Served in Vermont 1954-1966; deceased
- Ronald A. Soutiere — Served in Vermont 1974-1983 and 1999-2002; living
- Richard E. Thompson — Served in Vermont 1968-1984; deceased
- Charles A. Towne — Served in Vermont 1931-1972; deceased
- Raymond D. Walsh — Served in Vermont 1954-1998; deceased
- Donal D. Ward — Served in Vermont 1963-1967 and 1976-2002; deceased
- Alfred Willis — Served in Vermont 1976-1981; living
- Benjamin D. Wysolmerski — Served in Vermont 1950-1993; deceased
- Mark L. Quillen (aka Andrew Quillen) — Served in Vermont 1990-1994; credibly accused of abuse in Davenport, Iowa, but no allegations in Vermont; living
Do I Have a Case?
You may have grounds to file a civil legal action if:
- You were sexually abused by a priest, church volunteer, or other clergy member.
- The abuse occurred anywhere in Vermont.
At Levy Konigsberg, we support survivors in civil actions that aim to hold the Catholic Church accountable for its failures to stop abusive priests and protect victims. These civil claims are separate from any criminal proceedings and focus on holding the Church liable for damages. This means that you may still have a claim even if:
- Your abuser is no longer alive.
- Your abuser was never charged or convicted of a crime.
Recoverable Damages in Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Claims
In addition to accountability and providing the sense of justice survivors deserve, civil sex abuse lawsuits allow survivors to recover financial compensation for their damages, which may include:
- Past medical and mental health expenses
- Future mental health expenses, including therapy, medications, etc.
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish and psychological harm
- Lost income
- Other economic and non-economic damages
Call For a FREE Consultation: (800) 315-3806
Levy Konigsberg has recovered more than $3 billion in compensation for clients, including millions in compensation for survivors of sexual abuse. We’re passionate about helping survivors seek justice and provide the firepower they need to fight back against powerful institutions like the Catholic Church.
If you have questions about pursuing a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Burlington over sexual abuse that occurred anywhere in Vermont, we want to help. Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.
Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline or by submitting an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.
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