Trooper Says He Was Molested by Teacher
By J.m. Hirsch
April 3, 2003
MANCHESTER, N.H. - A state trooper on Thursday said he was molested by a teacher at a Roman Catholic high school during the early 1980s, and came forward because he felt the school was treating other alleged victims poorly. The teacher denied the trooper's accusation.
Sgt. Phil Jepson said he had hoped Bishop Guertin High School would take responsibility for the more than a dozen accusations made against teachers at the Nashua school during the past year.
Calls to lawyer Dave Pinsonneault, who represents the school and the order that runs it, were not immediately returned Thursday afternoon.
"They're trying to push it by the wayside and say either it didn't happen or 'We didn't know anything about it,"' said Jepson, a 16-year veteran of the state police now working out of Troop B in Milford.
"I feel that I need to take action in order to bring this to public light and hopefully to get some of the other victims out there, and I know they are there, to come forward," he said.
Jepson said Brother Leon Cyr sexually assaulted him when he was a junior, around 1981 or 1982, in Cyr's bedroom. He said Cyr was not his teacher, but the two met through after-school activities.
Cyr, who taught history at the school from the 1970s until the mid-1990s and was in charge of alumni activities, denied the accusation and said he would call Jepson.
"I've never had any affairs with Phil Jepson," Cyr said in a telephone interview. He referred further comment to Pinsonneault.
Four other Bishop Guertin teachers have been accused of molesting minors during the past year, including two who admitted to more than 30 assaults between them.
Jepson's lawyer, Peter Hutchins, has filed a class action lawsuit against the school and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, a Rhode Island-based religious order. So far Hutchins said 14 men have joined the lawsuit.
"I continue to be shocked and dismayed at the scope and duration of the sexual molestation of students at schools run by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart," Hutchins said Thursday.
"It has now become clear to us one year into this that this is not a problem of things that happened long ago, involving only one or two bad apples," he said. "To the contrary, it was and remains a system of secrecy and deceit."
Though international, the order is divided into autonomous provinces. The New England province, the subject of Hutchins' lawsuit, also operates Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, R.I., and formerly owned schools in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut.
In February, Hutchins said also represents alleged victims of members of the order in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Jepson said he knows of other victims at Bishop Guertin. He said his primary motivation for coming forward is his hope that by doing so he will give others the courage to come forward.
He said that for years he told no one about the alleged assault. He said he found it increasingly difficult to keep silent, in part because as a state trooper he handles many sexual assault cases.