Worcester Officials Ponder Extradition of Priest in '74 Case

By Stephen Kurkjian
Boston Globe
August 4, 1992

The Worcester Police Department and district attorney's office are searching for court and investigative records relating to the 1974 case of a priest in the alleged assault of two youths there as they mull extraditing the priest from New Brunswick.

According to law enforcement sources who asked not to be identified, before officials can seek the extradition the city and county investigators must determine if the alleged victims in the case can be located and are able to testify.

Rev. Joseph Fredette, former director of a halfway house in Worcester operated for the state Department of Youth Services, was charged with six counts of assault and battery in May 1974. The charges, filed in Worcester District Court, stemmed from alleged incidents involving two youths, 13 and 16, living at the halfway house.

According to newspaper accounts on the weekend, Father Fredette disappeared shortly after the charges were filed and Worcester Police have had no contact with him since.

However, Father Fredette was located by the Globe and by the Worcester Telegram Gazette last week residing in a hermitage in New Brunswick. Father Fredette, according to a priest at the Monmatre sanctuary in Quebec who knows him, has lived in the hermitage for at least the past 10 years.

Before that, according to Rev. Marcel Lessard of Quebec, Father Fredette lived and worked as a priest with the Augustinians of the Assumption, a missionary order, in Quebec, where he had been assigned after moving from Massachusetts.

Law enforcement sources said that Worcester District Attorney John Conte would petition the US Justice Department to request Father Fredette's extradition if he determines that the alleged victims and other witnesses in the case can be located and are still willing to testify.

In addition, investigators must determine when Father Fredette actually left Massachusetts to make certain that the 6-year statute of limitations on prosecuting such assault cases has not tolled. Under Massachusetts criminal law, the statute of limitations is frozen if a defendant flees the state to avoid prosecution before the six years have passed.


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