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October 28, 2008

Priest Named In Abuse Suits

by The Sarnia Observer

A Roman Catholic priest who served in Sarnia for five years has been named in a series of $2-million lawsuits against the Diocese of London for alleged sexual abuse. Father Lawrence C. Paquette, who died in 1986, served at St. Thomas Aquinas parish between 1975 and 1980.

Six men have each filed $2- million lawsuits against the Diocese, alleging Paquette engaged them in activities ranging from fondling to sex acts. Five of the six say the abuse happened while Paquette served in Grande Pointe, Ont. between 1955 and 1967.

Lawyer Rob Talach, of Ledroit Beckett, the London firm handling the suits, said little is known about Paquette and his career. "These victims therefore seek the assistance of the public in their pursuit of the truth," he said. "There are many questions which remain unanswered."

Anyone with information is asked to call the law firm at 1- 866-674-4994 or e-mail Talach at rtalach@ledroitbeckett.com.

Mark Adkinson, director of communications for the Diocese, said when the first lawsuit was filed in January it conducted an investigation, notified parish communities and appealed to the public for information.

"That was the first time we had received any allegations of sexual misconduct by Father Lawrence Paquette," he said. Paquette also served at

St. Anne, Tecumseh (1943-1950);

Our Lady of Fatima, Windsor (1950-1952);

St. Ignatius, Bothwell (1952-1955);

St. Philip, Grande Pointe (1955-1967);

St. Gregory the Great, St. Clair Beach (1967-1970);

St. Joseph, River Canard (1970-1975);

and St. Clement, McGregor (1980- 1986).

Anyone with knowledge of improper conduct involving Paquette or any diocesan representative is asked to call Father John Sharp, the bishop's delegate regarding sexual misconduct, at 519-433-0658, ext. 225.

Gerald Lozon, 60, told a news conference in Chatham Monday that Father Paquette abused him when he served as an altar boy 50 years ago at St. Philippe's Roman Catholic Church in Grande Pointe. "I was ashamed, I was scared and I was afraid of what people would say," he said.

Lozon said he thought he was a lone victim until he received a call from his brother Reginald, who said he too had been molested. After discussing their memories, the brothers decided to come forward. Gerald Lozon said the toll the abuse has taken on his brother led to decades of substance abuse and emotional problems.

He said he hopes speaking out will free them of shame and allow healing to begin. "I hope this will help me get back to having more confidence in myself," Lozon said. He added: "I wish Father Paquette was here today so I could tell him what his abuse did to me. He died thinking his secret was safe."

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