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  Epping Pastor Accused in Assault

By Kathryn Marchocki
Union Leader
March 20, 2002

The pastor of St. Joseph Church in Epping went on administrative leave last week while authorities investigate an allegation he sexually assaulted a minor in the early 1980s.

Manchester police are investigating the charge against the Rev. Ronald E. Corriveau, who served at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manchester from 1978-1982, according to the state Attorney General's Office and church directories.

Corriveau requested the leave of absence after the Attorney General's Office informed him and the Catholic Diocese of Manchester March 11 of the sexual misconduct report against him, diocesan spokesman Pat McGee said yesterday.

This is the first accusation of sexual misconduct the diocese received against Corriveau since he was ordained a priest in 1971, McGee said.

"I don't believe it," said Jackie Fuller, secretary at St. Joseph parish where Corriveau has been pastor since 1985. The allegation does not relate to Corriveau's ministry in Epping, McGee said.

Corriveau is one of roughly a half-dozen priests against whom the Attorney General's Office has received independent complaints of alleged child sexual abuse in the past month, Senior Assistant Attorney General E. William Delker said.

He is the only one of those priests who was actively serving in a parish, he said.

"Father Corriveau is the only priest who had an active parish. There have been other individuals whom we've received information about who are either retired or moved on," Delker said.

The diocese last month turned over the names of 15 priests accused of past child sexual abuse to the Attorney General's Office for possible criminal prosecution.

Since then, its investigators have received independent reports of child sexual abuse against roughly a half-dozen additional priests, Delker said. Corriveau's name has been turned over to Hillsborough County Attorney Peter McDonough, Delker said. The names of the other accused priests have been forwarded to county attorneys in whose counties the alleged abuses occurred, he said.

Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack spoke at all Masses at St. Joseph Church last weekend, informing parishioners of the charge against Corriveau, McGee said.

The bishop said he is "deeply saddened by the news of the accusation," McGee recounted.

"Father Corriveau has served the people of St. Joseph parish faithfully and well these many years," McGee said.

"As parishioners left Mass this weekend, many stopped to express to the bishop their care and support for Father Ron," he said.

New Hampshire Catholic Charities staff are assisting parishioners "in dealing with their feelings and concerns about this sad news," McGee said.

Corriveau went on administrative leave last Thursday in accordance with the diocese's sexual misconduct policy, McGee said.

He will remain on leave pending the outcome of the criminal investigation, he said. During that time, Corriveau cannot perform any pastoral ministry and is to have no contact in any official capacity with children, McGee said.

The Rev. Thomas J. Bresnahan, who recently retired, is serving as temporary administrator at St. Joseph in the interim, McGee said.

From 1978 to 1982, Corriveau was assigned to St. Francis of Assisi Church, which then was located on Brown Avenue in south Manchester.

The church had a parochial school with 280 students enrolled during that time period, according to church directories.

St. Francis of Assisi relocated to Litchfield in July 2000 to make way for Manchester Airport expansion.

Delker would not comment on what, if any, steps investigators are taking to find out if there are other possible victims.

"I can't discuss the specifics of the investigation. We are interested in any information anyone has. We can't get into any details of who we are talking to," he said.

According to church directories:

Corriveau began his ministry at Sacred Heart Church in Laconia in 1972-73.

He then was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Salem from 1974-1976 and St. Joseph Church in Nashua in 1977.

In 1983, he served at St. John the Evangelist in Concord; St. Christopher in Nashua in 1984; and St. Aloysius Church in Nashua in 1985 before being assigned to St. Joseph in Epping later that year.

 
 

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