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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Catholic Diocese Reviews Sexual Abuse Allegations Involving 52 Priests

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 10:12 PM

Bishop Christopher Coyne - DEREK BROUWER
  • Derek Brouwer
  • Bishop Christopher Coyne
A lay committee created by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has identified 52 former or deceased priests accused of sexually abusing children in Vermont. The names of those with substantiated allegations against them will be released as soon as next month, Bishop Christopher Coyne said Thursday night at St. Mary's Church in St. Albans.

About 75 people attended the first in a series of what the bishop calls public town hall meetings around the state this month.

The meetings are being held as the diocese faces a fresh investigation led by the Vermont Attorney General's Office into decades-old abuse of children at the former St. Joseph's Orphanage in Burlington.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Bishop Coyne to Empanel Committee to Examine Abuse Claims

Posted By on Wed, Oct 10, 2018 at 12:03 PM

Bishop Christopher Coyne - FILE: MATTHEW ROY
  • File: Matthew Roy
  • Bishop Christopher Coyne
Vermont Bishop Christopher Coyne announced on Wednesday that he is creating an independent panel of laypeople to review clergy personnel files and draft a public list of state priests accused of sexual abuse.

The announcement comes as allegations of widespread priest abuse coverups in Pennsylvania have roiled the Catholic church. Locally, the Vermont diocese has grappled with allegations of horrific abuse at the long-shuttered St. Joseph's Orphanage.

Coyne did not provide a timeline for release of the list, but said he would convey "a sense of urgency" to the committee. He said he would soon reach out to potential committee members. Coyne is scheduled to hold a press conference later Wednesday.

"The crimes of the past were horrific and the damage to the victims and their loved ones horrendous," Coyne said in a prepared statement. "We will never be able to apologize adequately but will continue to try and hopefully have some positive impact in their lives going forward."

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Friday, September 28, 2018

Coyne Releases Orphanage Victims From Confidentiality Agreements

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2018 at 12:51 PM

Bishop Christopher Coyne - MATTHEW ROY
  • Matthew Roy
  • Bishop Christopher Coyne
Bishop Christopher Coyne on Friday said the diocese is waiving nondisclosure agreements struck with St. Joseph's Orphanage abuse victims in past legal settlements.

The decision is part of an effort to aid a new investigation into abuse claims at St. Joseph's, which closed in 1974. It comes as the bishop has repeatedly pledged to cooperate with a law enforcement task force overseeing the inquiry.

"They are now free to tell the story of what happened to them as they see fit," Coyne said in a prepared statement.

Some former residents of the Burlington orphanage sued the diocese in the 1990s and settled their cases. Coyne said that since 2002, the diocese has not asked survivors to sign NDAs as part of settlements.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Authorities Say Investigating St. Joseph's Orphanage Abuse Won't Be Easy

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2018 at 2:42 PM

The former orphanage - NATALIE WILLIAMS
  • Natalie Williams
  • The former orphanage
Even as Vermont law enforcement officials announced Monday the formation of a task force to investigate claims of abuse at the long-shuttered St. Joseph's Catholic Orphanage, they acknowledged the challenges that it will face.

Attorney General T.J. Donovan suggested that the probe, prompted by a recent Buzzfeed story detailing decades of abuse suffered by children, could focus more on fact-finding than legal action. The story includes claims that children died at the hands of nuns.

Many of the victims and alleged perpetrators are dead or elderly, and the statutes of limitation have expired for many acts at the North Avenue orphanage, which closed in 1974.

"While there may be challenges given the current state of our laws ... there should be no challenge to bringing truth and reconciliation and closure and justice for victims," Donovan said. He added, "Justice doesn't always occur in a courtroom."

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Friday, September 7, 2018

Burlington Police Will Investigate Claims of Abuse at St. Joseph's Orphanage

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2018 at 1:17 PM

The former orphanage - NATALIE WILLIAMS
  • Natalie Williams
  • The former orphanage
Updated at 4:48 p.m.

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said his department will launch an inquiry into allegations made in a recent Buzzfeed story about decades of abuse at the St. Joseph's Catholic Orphanage.

Del Pozo provided few details, but said he was meeting with the Vermont Attorney General's Office Friday and has been in discussions with Mayor Miro Weinberger about investigating the allegations of physical, mental and sexual abuse at St. Joseph's. The Buzzfeed article includes allegations that children were killed.

The orphanage closed in 1974. The imposing North Avenue building became part of Burlington College before it was turned into housing.

"It's safe to say that the mayor and I feel it's in the interests of justice to offer a full accounting of the crimes," del Pozo said. "We feel it's the duty of the state to do so."

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Utah Millionaire Abandons Plan for Futuristic Community in Vermont

Posted By on Wed, Jun 27, 2018 at 12:41 PM

A rendering of a NewVistas community
  • A rendering of a NewVistas community
Utah millionaire David Hall has decided not to pursue his vision for a high-tech sustainable community in the Sharon area after local opponents mounted vigorous opposition to the plan. Hall said he plans to sell the Vermont property he owns as soon as he can.

“I won’t pursue my dream there, and so I’ll exit as it’s possible,” Hall said in an interview with Seven Days Wednesday. Valley News first reported that he was abandoning the plan.

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