Priest Leaves Jaffrey after Admitting Affair

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
November 3, 2002

Jaffrey -- The Catholic priest who recently admitted he had a homosexual affair with a teenager is leaving St. Patrick Church, which was plunged into turmoil by the admission.

The Rev. Roland Cote, who worked at Nashua’s St. Louis de Gonzague Church until June, told parishioners he will leave today. Parish secretary Liz DiRusso said Cote is expected to say weekend Masses.

Cote admitted to parishioners in September he had a long-term affair with a teenage boy in the 1980s. Authorities investigated him in April after the teenager, who is now 35, told authorities the priest sexually abused him as a minor in the 1980s.

Prosecutors said they could not bring charges because the teenager was older than 16 when he first met Cote.

Bishop John McCormack transferred Cote to Jaffrey in June without informing parishioners in his new parish about his past.

Parishioners told The Union Leader they weren’t told where Cote is going, or who will replace him.

The Rev. Edward Arsenault, chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Manchester and delegate for sexual misconduct, would not comment.

“There is a relationship between a pastor and his parish,” Arsenault said.

Diocesan officials claimed the teenager told them he was 18 when the affair began. The diocese’s sexual misconduct policy defines a minor as someone younger than 18.

Prosecutors said the teenager was at least 16½ years old when he first met Cote, but they could never determine his exact age.

Cote’s transfer to St. Patrick last summer followed the controversial departure of the previous pastor, the Rev. James “Seamus” MacCormack.

Two months after resigning from the parish, MacCormack filed a lawsuit accusing the bishop and other church officials of waging a campaign to keep him silent about a pornography collection discovered in the residence of a Manchester priest who died in 1999. The diocese denied the allegation.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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