| Alleged Victim
Testifies at Priest Trial
By Gordon King
LACONIA — A New Hampshire state trooper, who as a teenage boy was allegedly raped by a Roman Catholic priest, told his story in Belknap County Superior Court on Tuesday.
The victim, who is not being identified, described how he was befriended by the Rev. George H. Robichaud, 58, of 284 Black Brook Road, Sanbornton, when the priest was pastor of St. Anthony Church in Swanzey, and how he was allegedly sexually assaulted.
It was also disclosed by the Clerk of Court’s Office on Tuesday that a grand jury has indicted the former pastor of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Alton and St. Cecelia Parish Wolfeboro on two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault and two counts of sexual assault involving a second victim. Those charges were contained in secret indictments issued earlier this year.
During opening arguments that preceded Tuesday’s testimony, defense lawyer, Attorney Peter J. Callaghan, said his client knows that his behavior toward the victim was inappropriate but he did not sexually assault him. He also said the victim is confused about his age at the time of the alleged assaults.
But Belknap County Attorney Lauren Noether, the lead prosecutor in the case, said she could prove that the victim was assaulted when he was 15 years old.
For the second day Robichaud sat at the defense table dressed in clerical attire. That is a violation of diocesan policy, according to Pat McGee, a spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester, who said priests who are on administrative leave are not supposed to wear clerical attire "and Father Robichaud knows he is on administrative leave."
"During this time, a priest is not to do anything to present himself as a functioning priest," McGee said.
Robichaud is standing trial on one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault and attempted aggravated felonious sexual assault. He is accused of assaulting the victim when he was an altar boy at the Swanzey church where Robichaud was pastor.
The victim told the court that "Father George" as he was known, began by hugging and kissing him. He also said he frequently went to the priest’s lakeside home in Sanbornton.
It was the lakeside home where the alleged assault and attempted assault took place.
The victim testified that he fell asleep on a couch at the home. He was wearing sweat pants and a T-shirt at the time. He said he woke up when he heard the priest come down the stairs.
Moments later Robichaud began touching the teenager. He then pulled down the teen’s pants and raped him, he testified.
"It seemed to go on forever," he told the court.
The victim said the next morning the priest never said anything to him about the incident.
The incident took place in 1985, the victim said.
He said he was certain of this because so much was going on in his life at that time.
During a deposition hearing on Friday, the victim developed a time-line chart tracing his life from seventh grade to his senior year in high school.
Under questioning by Noether the victim said there was a time when he wasn’t certain how old he was when the alleged assaults occurred.
"Before making the chart I had a hard time determining if I was 15 or 16 at the time of the cottage incident. I am confident I was 15," he said.
The victim also testified about a trip he took to Rome as a guest of Robichaud. One night while there, the priest came into his room, fondled him and french kissed him. He said he was too embarrassed to tell anyone.
"Who would believe me," he said.
The victim said the incident came to mind again when he applied to the New Hampshire State Police six years ago. During a questioning period, he mentioned the alleged sexual incident to his examiner who encouraged him to tell the appropriate authorities.
The victim said when news of the sexual abuse by priests in Massachusetts broke, he decided to go public with his accusations. He said he contacted the state Attorney General’s Office and that initiated the investigation into Robichaud’s behavior.
The investigation included the Attorney General’s approving of the victim wearing a wire while confronting the priest. The recording was expected to be played in court during today’s session.
Gordon D. King can be reached at 524-3800 ext. 5916 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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