Assignment Record– Rev. Paul M. Desilets, C.S.V.

Summary of Case: Paul M. Desilets was ordained a priest of the Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians) in 1963, possibly in Springfield, Massachusetts. The details of his whereabouts for his first five years in ministry are murky, except that he taught for a time at Classical College in Cornwall, Ontario Canada. He was transferred in 1969 back to Massachusetts where he was a convent chaplain until settling into work as an assistant priest at Assumption parish in Bellingham. In 1980 he was placed on leave, for unspecified reasons. He returned to Canada in 1984. Desilets was accused of molesting at least 20 altar boys at Assumption, and was nicknamed "Fr. Hands." His modus operandi was to aggressively fondle boys' genitals under their clothes. At least one former altar boy alleged rape. In 2002 Bellingham police launched an investigation after accusers began coming forward, and Desilets was arrested in Canada in October of that year. It wasn't until 2005 that he was extradited back to Massachusetts. He pleaded guilty to molesting 18 boys, was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison, followed by 10 years' probation. After his October 2006 release from prison he was allowed to return to his order in Quebec. Desilets died in 2010.

Ordained: 1963
Died: 2010

Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State/Country Position Notes
1963 1969 Classical College Cornwall Ontario, Canada teacher Desilets' time there is unclear, other than that he worked at this school prior to his transfer to Massachusetts.


Boston archbishop was Richard James Cushing (1944-1970), followed by Humberto Sousa Medeiros (1970-1983).

1974 Sisters of St. Anne, Provincialate and Novitiate Marlboro
MA Chaplain Indexed in 1975 Official Catholic Directory at St. Anne's, but not listed there in diocesan pages.


Medeiros was succeeded by Bernard Francis Law (1984-2002).


Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Desilets was accused of molesting at least 20 altar boys at this parish between 1974 and 1984. He was said to have isolated the boys and "aggressively fondled thier genitals" under their clothes. They nicknamed him "Father Hands." Desilets was also accused of rape.

MA 3/3, 2/2

Desilets is not indexed beyond the 1984 Directory.

Desilets was placed on leave for a time in 1980.

1984 2005   Quebec Canada  

Per news reports, Desilets returned in 1984 to Canada to live in a retirement home in Joliette, Quebec.

He was indicted by a grand jury in early 2002 and arrested in Canada in October of that year on charges he molested 18 boys between 1978-1984.

Desilets was extradited to the U.S. in 2005, pleaded guilty to molesting 18 altar boys, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison and 10 years' probation following release. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender.
He was released from prison in October 2006 and, with permission from a U.S. judge, returned to his order, Les Clercs de St. Viateur, in Quebec to serve probation. He died in 2010.

Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: Kenedy & Sons, 1970-1984).

Case May Have International Reach, By Tom Mashberg, Boston Herald, February 23, 2002
Allegations against Former Lowell Priest Have Rocked a Tightly Knit Parish, Lowell Sun (Lowell, MA) , July 6, 2002
Plaintiffs Strike Back at Bid to Dismiss Abuse Lawsuits, By Tom Mashberg, Boston Herald, January 11, 2003
Wounds Raw for Victims, By Emelie Rutherford , Milford Daily News, July 31, 2003
Church May Face Second Wave of Clergy Sex Abuse Lawsuits, By Laura Crimaldi , Boston Herald [Boston MA] , May 23, 2004
Accused Priest Still Fighting Extradition, By Sara Withee, Milford Daily News, [Bellingham MA], March 17, 2005
Former Mass. Priest Pleads Innocent to Abuse Charges, By Adam Gorlick , Associated Press, carried in [Worcester MA], April 25, 2005
Priest Pleads Guilty in Sex Abuse Case, The Associated Press, carried in Telegram & Gazette [Worcester MA], May 11, 2005
Desilets Sentence Is 1 to 1-1/2 Years, By Gary V. Murray,Telegram & Gazette [Worcester MA], May 12, 2005
Former Local Priests Defrocked over Sexual Allegations, By Nicole Simmons, Metro West Daily News, March 18, 2006
Convicted Priest Hopes to Avoid Sex-Offender Treatment, By Gary V. Murray, Telegram & Gazette, October 19, 2006
Perv Priest Leaves Prison, Will Fight Treatment for Abuse, By Danielle Williamson, Boston Herald [Massachusetts], October 24, 2006
Retired Priest Who Abused Boys Is Allowed to Return to Canada, By Gary V. Murray, Telegram & Gazette, October 24, 2006
Many alleged abusers left off church list, By Michael Rezendes, Boston Globe, November 20, 2011
Fugitives from Justice: Roman Catholic Priests, Few clergy who fled the U.S. after being accused of sexual abuse of minors have been returned to face the charges, By David Jackson, Gary Marx, Brian Boyer, David Eads, Katie Nieland, and Joe Germuska
Chicago Tribune
March 11, 2012

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy & Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Desilets' career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on September 23, 2015.


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