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  Teacher Accused of Molestation Was Being Investigated in R.I.

By J.M. Hirsch
Associated Press Writer
October 1, 2002

Concord, NH - A Roman Catholic brother accused of molesting a former Bishop Guertin High School pupil also was being investigated in Rhode Island for similar allegations, according to police.

Woonsocket, R.I. police Detective Marc Dubois said authorities were preparing to charge Roger Argencourt with several counts of first- and second-degree child molestation before the clergyman's death on Sept. 23.

Dubois said the allegations stemmed from incidents in 1985 and 1986 and involved a male pupil at Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket.

The alleged victim, now 30 and living in Stockbridge, Ga., said in a telephone interview Tuesday the abuse started when he was in seventh grade, and often took place in storage rooms at the school.

"He basically threatened me, telling me that no one would believe me if I told anyone, and to keep my mouth shut because I was already in trouble in the school system anyway with grades," the man said.

"He just overemphasized who my parents are going to believe, me or him, a brother in the church," said the alleged victim, who asked not to be identified.

Brother Robert Croteau, president of Mount Saint Charles, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Mount Saint Charles is owned by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, the religious order to which Argencourt belonged and which also owns Bishop Guertin in Nashua.

Argencourt taught at the Nashua school from 1972 to 1978, and again from 1987 until this year. In between, he taught at Mount Saint Charles from 1981 to 1986.

Argencourt left Bishop Guertin in January when Jeffrey Linton, an Afton, Va., man, accused the brother of raping and molesting him as many as 40 times in 1974, once in front of another teacher.

Argencourt admitted to the abuse in court documents, but was not charged because the statute of limitations had expired. He also told police he assaulted another New Hampshire student around the same time.

Linton filed a civil lawsuit against Argencourt and the religious order in April. His lawyer said the case will continue despite the brother's death. Officials said Argencourt, 64, died of natural causes.

Dubois said the Rhode Island case could have been prosecuted because the state's seven-year statute of limitations was effectively suspended when Argencourt left the state shortly after the alleged assaults.

The alleged victim from Rhode Island said reading about Linton's case prompted him to come forward.

"(Argencourt) admitted to molesting these other boys 40 or 50 times and they couldn't do anything because of the statute of limitations," he said. "If anything I could help these guys lock (him) up and not see him get away with it again."

The man also said he has spoken to three other men who say they were abused by Argencourt at Mount Saint Charles, but who have yet to come forward.

The man said his life has been a mess since the abuse. He also said he is angry he can't confront Argencourt.

"I went down the usual road of heavy drug use and stuff like that and it took me a long time to straighten my life out, all because of this one jerk. Now I'm about to get some retribution for it and he drops dead.

"I was really looking forward to the day I could just stand in front of him and say my piece. I just wish I had done something sooner."

 
 

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