Could a defrocked priest twice convicted of child sex abuse get a new trial in Maine?
That’s one eventual outcome that a lawyer for former priest Ronald Paquin, who is currently serving a 16 year sentence in Maine for abuse in the 1980s, says could happen after an appeal to Maine’s Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, attorney Rory McNamara and Maine Assistant Attorney General Justina McGettigan presented oral arguments before justices in Portland, advocating for and against the need to provide more documents about a key witness in Paquin’s trial, his accuser, Keith Townsend.
“My client feels like his right to have a fair trial is affected by the state’s failure to turn over what criminal records history was available,” McNamara said.
“This case is uniquely about credibility, it was about allegations nobody witnessed 35 years ago,” he said.
Paquin’s attorneys think information about a criminal record for a victim in the case would have impacted his credibility as a witness.
They say the previous lawyers who represented the former priest in his superior court trial didn't have those papers and want the supreme court to get them to Paquin’s team now.
“If the defendant made the request for production of documents, would the state then under our existing jurisprudence have to produce those records?” Justice Andrew Mead asked.
“Yes,” McNamara replied.
The Maine Supreme Court’s decision is expected to take months.
In the interim, Paquin will continue serving his prison time, which is his second extended period in jail after serving a decade long sentence in Massachusetts.
He was a figure in the movie “Spotlight” about Catholic church sex abuse.