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Former South Burlington priest accused of child sexual abuse

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 4:46 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A former South Burlington priest has been accused of sexually abusing a child in the 1960s.

The victim, who is remaining anonymous, is now in his 60s. He says Father Roger W. Carlin molested him when he was nine in 1966 and 1967 at St. John Vianney church in South Burlington.

“He wants to try to heal, he wants to try to help other victims, and he wants to make the world a safer place for children,” said Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney representing the alleged victim. Garabedian has represented thousands of other sex abuse cases and says coming forward can be cathartic for victims. “The guilt stays with them and they are trying to heal, they are trying to gain closure. They can never heal fully, they can never gain closure fully.”

Robert Hoatson, a former priest who works to help sex abuse victims, on Wednesday asked for the release of Carlin’s files. Carlin served in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington over a 20 year period, much of it outside the diocese in other parishes. Hoatson asked the bishop to release all relevant information. “We ask him, we demand today that he release the file of Father Carlin. Let us know what happened all those years. Where was he? Why was he moved? Why was he given those designations? Tell us the honest truth.”

An independent committee of Vermont laypeople two years ago looked through thousands of documents and identified 40 priests who were named as sexual abusers who worked in the state. Father Carlin, who died back in 1980, was not one of them.

In a statement, the Burlington diocese says they found no prior allegations against Carlin. “The Diocese of Burlington remains committed to a policy of transparency and honesty regarding any allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy. As to the allegation made yesterday against Fr. Carlin, who died in 1980, the Diocese notes that this is the first allegation it has received concerning him.”

Mike Donoghue, a member of the independent review board, says they take all these allegations seriously. “I guess we are on hold for the for the most part. If the attorney wants to share some more information, then the committee can take another look at this thing,” he said.

The diocese says they remain committed to engaging in a fair legal process, including the release of files, seeking to resolve any claims outstanding against it.

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