Diocese will appeal $8.7 million verdict

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(Host) Lawyers for Vermont’s Roman Catholic Church say they’ll appeal an $8.7 million dollar verdict.

Yesterday, a Chittenden Superior Court jury found in favor of a Colorado man who says he was repeatedly abused by a priest in a Burlington church in the 1970s.

All but about $1 million of the verdict was intended as punishment for the church. The church was accused of hiring the priest, Reverend Edward Paquette, even though officials knew of abuse allegations against him.

Church lawyer Kaveh Shahi says he doesn’t believe the church should face such a large penalty.

(Shahi) "The whole notion of punishment for events that happened 30-some odd years ago, today, with a charitable institution, is something that we feel should be addressed by an appellate court.”

(Host) Shahi says the church’s team of lawyers will file an appeal with the Vermont Supreme Court within the next 30 days.

He says they’ll ask the justices to order a payment that would be more fair to the church.

(Shahi) "We don’t have a problem with fair and reasonable compensation for victims who have suffered and have to deal with issues such as therapy and other needs.”

(Host) But Shahi says the church believes it’s not reasonable for the church to be punished so harshly.

Lawyers for the man who was abused say it’s appropriate to punish the diocese. They say that would help to prevent the church from allowing similar behavior in the future. The jury agreed with that approach.

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