Diocese Official Talked to Judge about Her Priest

By Pat Grossmith
Union Leader (Manchester NH)
May 24, 2002

The chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester contacted a Superior Court judge, who is presiding in a civil suit against the diocese, to tell her of allegations raised against her parish priest, according to court documents.

The Rev. Edward Arsenault, chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester, said he called Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Carol Ann Conboy on May 15 to tell her that allegations were being raised against the Rev. Aime Boisselle, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Concord.

Two days later, Boisselle resigned after it became public that three men alleged he sexually molested them in the 1960s.

Conboy is a lector at Sacred Heart Church where Boisselle was the pastor.

Father Arsenault said he was not aware at the time he telephoned Judge Conboy that she was the presiding judge in the civil suit of Daniel Whitehouse vs. the Roman Catholic Bishop of Manchester.

He said he called Conboy because she is a lector at Sacred Heart and because last year he talked with her about altar servers.

Attorney Mark Abramson of Manchester, who represents Whitehouse in his lawsuit alleging a priest molested him, said he found it "outrageous" that Arseneault would contact a sitting judge.

"I thought him contacting her was outrageous and really dangerous in putting the judge in a very uncompromising position that then required her to disclose it," he said.

Abramson said Arseneault "knew the suits were filed."

At the same time, however, Abramson said he has no problem with Conboy continuing to handle the Whitehouse case.

"I really have a lot of faith in her being willing to give both sides a very fair shake, which is all we ask," he said.

Attorney James E. Higgins, who represents Bishop John B. McCormack, said yesterday that his client does not object to Conboy continuing to preside in the case.

Conboy disclosed the telephone conversation in a court document dated May 16 and titled, "Addendum to Court's Notification."

In it, she said that Father Arsenault had called her "as a courtesy" to advise her that allegations had been made against Father Boisselle. Father Arsenault, she wrote, did not describe the nature of the allegations. Conboy wrote that he said there was to be a meeting with the lay leadership of the parish concerning the allegations and that an announcement to the parish would be forthcoming.

"Neither I nor my husband are currently members of the Sacred Heart parish council and neither of us will be involved in any meetings between the diocese and the lay leadership of the parish. To the extent that allegations against Aime Boisselle are connected to any litigation, it is my intent to recuse myself from such litigation," she wrote.

The judge concluded that the information she disclosed did not require her recusal from the Whitehouse litigation.

However, she asked that the parties address the disclosures in their written responses to a previous disclosure she wrote on May 8.

In that document titled, "Court's Notification," she disclosed that she is a Roman Catholic, that she and her husband are members of Sacred Heart Church and that she had been a regular lector there.

Several years ago, she said, her husband, Bernard J. Conboy, was a member of and vice president of the church's parish council. And in the fall of 2001, she wrote, she contacted the diocese requesting general information regarding female altar servers.

In the past, she said, she had participated as a reader at the Red Mass conducted at St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester and is a member of the Catholic Lawyers Guild of New Hampshire.

In 1996, Conboy presided over another civil suit filed against the church and the Rev. Gordon MacRae. He was sentenced to up to 67 years in prison on a 1994 rape conviction.

Abramson represented three Keene brothers who alleged MacRae molested them. Higgins was the attorney defending the diocese.

The diocese settled the lawsuit, but only after Judge Conboy ruled that the six-year statute of limitations hadn't begun to run until the victims became emotionally aware of the harm that was done to them.

"She did a superb job in the Grover case," Abramson said. The settlement is confidential.

Whitehouse, who resides in Rochester, filed his lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Bishop of Manchester Inc. in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester on April 22.

He alleges the church failed to protect him from abuse by the Rev. Paul J. Aube when the priest was assigned to the Holy Rosary Church in Rochester from 1979 to 1986.

Abramson said when Whitehouse was a child he was repeatedly sexually assaulted in the rectory.

Whitehouse alleges that Aube first befriended him as a child, did favors for him, gave him alcohol and then sexually assaulted him.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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