A former Roman Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing an altar boy is being released from prison after prosecutors withdrew a civil petition Friday to have him committed as a sexually dangerous person.
Ronald Paquin pled guilty in December of 2002 to raping a young boy from 1989 to 1990 while assigned to a parish in Haverill, Massachusetts. He was convicted in 2003 and sentenced to 12 to 15 years in prison.
Paquin completed his prison sentence in May, but Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office sought to keep him committed as a sexually dangerous person at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater, where he was being held.
U.S. & World
The day's top national and international news.
Blodgett said he had no choice but to withdraw the petition under state law because two psychologists who examined Paquin determined he was no longer “sexually dangerous.”
"Our contention is that Mr. Paquin poses a danger to the community," Blodgett said. "Unfortunately, we have no further legal options available to hold Mr. Paquin."
Under the law, anyone found sexually dangerous can be civilly committed indefinitely at a state treatment center even after their prison sentence has ended.
It was not immediately clear Friday when Paquin would be released. His current attorney, David Erickson, did not immediately return a call Friday for comment.
Paquin was one of the central figures in the Boston Archdiocese's sex abuse scandal.
Although he was convicted of raping one boy, several other people accused him of molesting them.
He was later defrocked by the Vatican. At sentencing, Paquin expressed remorse through his lawyer and said that as a teenager, he was abused by a priest.
Michael Emerton, who said he was sexually assaulted by Paquin when he was a teenager in the 1980s, said he was shocked when someone from Blodgett's office called him Friday to tell him Paquin would be released.
"When he was incarcerated, we knew exactly where he was. Now a dangerous predator has been released and has been put back on the streets, and it's our job to be vigilant now, to keep track of him. The responsibility has been shifted to society," Emerton said.
Jeffrey Newman, who represented the victim in the case, declined to comment.
The Archdiocese of Boston released a statement saying:
"We are disappointed in today's ruling, particularly with concern for Ronald Paquin's victims and all others who have experienced the reprehensible crime of sexual abuse of minors. The Archdiocese of Boston reports all allegations of sexual abuse by clergy to law enforcement, including any new allegations regarding former priests of the archdiocese, including Paquin who was laicised in 2004. We remain steadfast in our commitment to the safety of children and young people and to providing support for survivors and their families who have been affected by clergy sexual abuse."