'Very dark and very evil things:' Bond reduction denied for Boise priest
By Katie Terhune
April 17, 2018
A lawyer for Father W. Thomas Faucher argued his graphic online chats about wanting to rape and kill children were essentially roleplay. BOISE -- The retired Boise priest facing more than 20 child pornography charges mused online about the "journey that he has taken down the path to Satan" and his desire to hurt others before the end of his life, according to prosecutors. "'Yes, I want to do something truly evil before I die,'" Prosecutor Kassandra Slaven recited in court Friday. "'The thought of killing someone does begin to excite me.'"
Slaven was quoting from online chat logs obtained by police after they raided Father W. Thomas Faucher's home in February. Investigators found more than 2,000 child pornography images and videos on Faucher's computer and cell phone, including files depicting the "extremely brutal rape and torture" of children as young as infants and toddlers, according to the prosecutor.
Friday's court hearing came after Faucher's lawyer, Mark Manweiler, filed a motion to reduce the priest's $1 million bond, decrying the amount as "excessive," "unnecessary," and ultimately unconstitutional.
"This case is what it is, it's a serious case," Manweiler argued. "A significant bond is certainly warranted, but not a million dollars - that's ridiculous."
But the prosecution urged Judge Jason Scott to weigh Faucher's own words in the chat logs as the judge decided whether or not to lower the priest's bond.
"He talks about wanting to rape teenage boys - those are his words. He talks about being turned on by a baby's scream - those are his words," Slaven said. "He encourages the person with which he is chatting to rape and kill a boy. He talks about his own desire to rape and kill children."
In another chat conversation, Slaven said, Faucher discusses whether he should poison a neighbor child's dog, writing that no one would suspect "the old wonderful priest neighbor."
The violent files recovered from Faucher's devices were among the most horrific Idaho's Internet Crimes Against Children task force had ever encountered, Slaven said. In addition to the pictures and videos showing children being tortured and abused, she said, investigators also found files showing animals being hurt and killed and "an actual snuff film:" a recording of the real rape and murder of a woman.
"Your Honor, the totality of that forensic evidence as a whole really does show he's interested in very dark and very evil things," Slaven said.
But Manweiler argued that the disturbing chat logs were essentially "roleplay" between his client and another man. The other person in the conversation lives in Brazil, Faucher said, and contacted the priest because he was writing a book.
"They discuss all kinds of fantastic scenarios - it's like two murder novelists talking with each other, only the issue is child abuse," he said.
At one point, the lawyer noted, Faucher even declines the other man's offer to send him some child pornography. And many of the files police recovered from his devices were in the retired priest's recycling bin, raising questions about whether Faucher ever opened them or looked at them before deleting, Manweiler said.
The attorney also pointed out that Faucher is not charged with actually molesting or abusing any children. Although several people came forward after Faucher's arrest, accusing the priest of sexually molesting them in the 1970's, Manweiler dismissed those accounts as opportunists coming "out of the woodwork. "
"In my view, those are people jumping on the bandwagon that want the Catholic church to write them a check," he said. "They should not be given serious consideration by this court."
Manweiler also stressed the priest's lack of criminal history and deep support from his family members and many friends.
"In terms of his character and reputation, judge, prior to this case it was beyond reproach. He has ministered to many, many thousands of people over his long career," he said. "The bottom line is, he's well known and well-liked and he counts among his very, very good friends the governor, the lieutenant governor, Mayor Bieter and other well-known political figures in Idaho."
Slaven fired back, calling the high bond "absolutely necessary" and arguing Faucher would put the community at risk if allowed to leave the Ada County Jail. She noted that some of the experiences he talked about desiring in his online chats - using illegal drugs, experimenting with different types of violent pornography - he ultimately followed through on.
"I am extremely concerned about all of the other things he says he wants to do, and whether or not he wants to follow through with those before he dies," Slaven said.
Manweiler disagreed, telling the judge his frail, wheelchair-bound, 72-year-old client was not a risk to anyone.
"The only danger Father Faucher presents to the community in this case is if somebody is walking on the sidewalk below his downhill driveway and he slips and runs over them in his wheelchair," he said.
Scott wasn't swayed, telling Faucher he agreed with the previous judge who raised his bond from $250,000 to $1 million.
And although Faucher's physical infirmity may limit his risk, the judge noted that not all sex crime victims "are obtained by force; some are lured by guile."
"This is something that undoubtedly, undeniably, by its nature presents a grave risk to the community," Scott said.
Faucher is due back in court June 1.