Abusive Ex-Priest Once Served in New Hampshire

By the Associated Press
August 5, 2004

A former priest who pleaded guilty this week to molestation charges in Massachusetts had previously admitted similar crimes in New Hampshire.

Leo Landry, 74, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Massachusetts to sexually abusing two boys there in the late 1950s. He was immediately sentenced to lifetime probation in a deal approved by the victims, who said their goal was to see Landry admit the abuse.

Landry, who was living in Lakewood, Colo. as of June, left the priesthood in 1972 after 12 years, including service at New Hampshire parishes from 1965 to 1970.

Landry was interviewed by the New Hampshire attorney general's office as part of a massive investigation of sexually abusive priests two years ago. In documents the prosecutors released in March 2003, they said he admitted to numerous sexual encounters with teenage boys.

Top New Hampshire church officials were aware of at least some of the misconduct, Landry told prosecutors. In one 1967 episode, he said he was summoned by then-Bishop Ernest Primeau to answer a woman's complaint that he had been seen having sex with her son at the family's lakeside camp in Milton, N.H. The 13- or 14-year-old was an altar boy at Holy Trinity parish in Somersworth, N.H., where Landry was assigned in 1965-66.

Confronted with the allegation, Landry recalled telling Primeau, "I wish I could tell you it wasn't true," according to the prosecutors' report.

Primeau, who died in 1989, told him to stay away from the boy and write a letter of apology to the family. By Landry's own admission, he did neither.

In the meantime, Landry had been moved to St. Anne's parish in Manchester, where he also admitted sexually assaulting boys.

The New Hampshire diocese responded to the report last year by apologizing for past mistakes and noting its new policies for preventing future abuses. The diocese has settled numerous lawsuits filed by victims.

In addition to Somersworth and Manchester, Landry's New Hampshire assignments were St. Joseph's in Lincoln, St. Joseph's in Laconia and St. Kieran's parish in Berlin. He told prosecutors he was unmonitored as he moved through parish assignments, often overseeing altar boys.

Prosecutors said last year that Landry could not be prosecuted in the state because potential cases against him were too old.


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