Manchester Diocese Names 15th Priest Accused of Sex Abuse

By Kathryn Marchocki
Union Leader [Manchester NH]
March 16, 2002

A month after releasing the names of 14 Catholic priests accused of past sexual misconduct with minors, the Diocese of Manchester yesterday added a 15th cleric to the list.

The Rev. John W. Nolin, who served at St. Joseph Church in Woodsville, was accused of sexual abuse in 1994, diocesan spokesman Pat McGee said. The diocese revoked his permission to function as a priest when the allegation was made, he added.

McGee said it was an "oversight" that Nolin's name was not on the list of 14 names turned over to the state attorney general Feb. 15.

An individual, who had made a complaint against Nolin, called the diocese several days later to ask why Nolin was omitted from the list that also had been published in the media, McGee said.

"As soon as the individual contacted us and we reviewed the record and saw we made an error, we reported it immediately to the Attorney General's Office," he added.

The diocese did not make Nolin's name public until yesterday.

"We felt we really did fulfill our obligation to report what we knew by making that (information) available to the attorney general," McGee explained.

"As we reflected on it, we felt, to be consistent with what we did on Feb. 15, we ought to publicly add it to the list," he continued.

The diocese would not say when or where the alleged abuse occurred or discuss the nature of the charge.

McGee also would not discuss Nolin's parish assignments in New Hampshire.

Nolin was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Woodsville in the mid-1990s, an area resident said.

Nolin was ordained a diocesan priest in 1960. He is listed as retired and living in Albuquerque, N.M., in the 2001 diocesan directory.

Nolin did not return a call yesterday.

By having his permission to function as a priest revoked, Nolin is not supposed to celebrate Mass, administer the sacraments, or function as a priest in any other way, McGee said.

Of the 14 priests whose names were released Feb. 15, seven had their pastoral ministry revoked that day.

Seven others were stripped of their ministries when accusations first surfaced against them.

The Attorney General's Office is reviewing the 15 priests' cases for possible criminal prosecution.

In addition, they are evaluating reports of child sexual abuse against other priests, including several from the Archdiocese of Boston who allegedly molested Bay State children after bringing them here decades ago.

The Attorney General's Office has received about a dozen reports from alleged victims so far, Senior Assistant Attorney General E. William Delker said.

They include accusations made against priests on the list, other New Hampshire priests and Massachusetts priests. Delker said his office has turned the information over to the relevant county attorneys, who would prosecute the cases if they prove viable.

"We haven't made any decisions on any of the cases at this point," he said.

Prosecutors, he added, need more specific information from the diocese on the 15 priests before they can decide if criminal charges can be brought.

Delker said the diocese is cooperating with his office in providing the additional information.

Strafford County Attorney Janice Rundles said about three or four sexual abuse reports were forwarded to her office about a week ago.

"We've received what I would characterize as some preliminary information regarding allegations of sexual misconduct in this county," she said this week.

"We need a little bit more than a name of a victim or a name of a priest," she added.

Prosecutors need to know more about the ages of the alleged victims, dates of alleged offenses and the nature of the accusations before they can determine if the cases can be prosecuted, Rundles said.

"We are definitely keeping track of how much time has gone by since we got the first information.

At a certain time point, if we haven't gotten more information, we will start to ask why," she explained.

"We're prepared to be patient.

But we're not going to wait forever," she added.

Delker said several reports of alleged sexual abuse of Bay State children by Massachusetts priests at Camp Fatima in Barnstead are being handled directly out of the Belknap County Attorney's office.

"We have put together a team of investigators in my office who will go through them one by one and see what we gather for information and evidence," Belknap County Attorney Lauren Noether said earlier this week.


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