BURLINGTON, Vt. - Vermont's Roman Catholic Diocese plans to appeal an $8.7 million judgment - in a sex abuse trial - that the bishop said the church would have trouble paying.
Church attorney Kaveh Shahi said the appeal would focus on two rulings in the trial that ended earlier this month with the judgment of $950,000 in compensatory damages and $7.75 million in punitive damages.
The appeal by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington will argue that Judge Matthew Katz should not have allowed punitive damages to be imposed and that the judge was wrong about the statute of limitations application in the case, Shahi said.
He said the actions that led to the jury verdict happened more than 30 years ago and church leadership has changed since then.
"Everybody knows this is a very different diocese now than it was then," said Shahi. "This stuff isn't happening anymore. It's two bishops and 30 years later."
The case that was decided on Tuesday was filed by a former altar boy who said he was fondled from 40 to 100 times at a Burlington church by the Rev. Edward Paquette between 1976 and 1978. The plaintiff, now 40 and living in Colorado, sued the diocese in 2005 after learning that church officials knew Paquette was a child molester when they hired him.
Katz ruled that the statute of limitations rule did not apply because the plaintiff could not have known key facts about the diocese's decision to hire Paquette until recently.
After the jury's decision was announced, Bishop Salvatore Matano said the award would pose grave problems for the "small, rural diocese."
It's unclear how the diocese would pay the award.