School Informs Parents about Abuse Charge

By Megan Matteucci
Providence Journal-Bulletin (Rhode Island)
October 7, 2002

*Mount St. Charles Academy sends a letter to parents to report the alleged sexual assault of a student during the 1985-86 school year.

WOONSOCKET - A former Mount St. Charles Academy student told the police this summer that he was sexually assaulted in 1985-86 by the late Brother Roger Argencourt, the school's former business manager, according to a letter administrators sent to parents last week.

Argencourt, who died Sept. 23 in Burrillville at the age of 64, worked as the school's business manager from 1981 to 1986.

According to the Woonsocket police, the former student, now 30, told them several months ago that he had been molested during the 1985-1986 school year. Over the summer, the police began investigating and were preparing to file charges, when Argencourt died. The investigation ceased because of his death.

Brother Robert R. Croteau, the school's president, said the Woonsocket police first told him about the complaint during the summer. But it wasn't until Argencourt died that the complaint became public.

"The detective told me it was not an accusation against Mount St. Charles, but he was just coming to inform us. He did tell us he was going to the grand jury in the fall," Croteau said Friday in a telephone interview. "But the brother died and as a result it became a moot point."

According to Croteau, this is the first sexual assault complaint the school has received. He said he felt it was necessary to tell the public.

"Given the climate, we felt it was better to be proactive in regard to informing the parents," Croteau said. "It became public and we decided it was best to inform our parents."

Since the letter went home, Croteau has received few calls. "Our initial reaction from the parents was positive," he said.

Croteau said no complaints were ever filed against Argencourt while he was at Mount St. Charles. "When we first heard about it we were really quite surprised," he added.

Argencourt worked as a business manager at Mount St. Charles from 1981 to 1986. He was a member of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, which ran Mount St. Charles and Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, N.H., his other former employer.

Argencourt taught history and was the head of the Nashua school's social studies department from 1972 to 1978. After six years in Woonsocket, he returned to Bishop Guertin in 1987 to serve as the school's student activities director. He worked there until January, when another former student filed a lawsuit against him.

Jeffrey Linton, of Afton, Va., accused Argencourt of molesting and raping him in 1974, once in front of another teacher. Linton's lawsuit also claims that over a three-month period, Argencourt molested him more than 40 times in Linton's bedroom. Argencourt was Linton's history tutor at the time.

The former Mount St. Charles student, a former Wrentham, Mass., resident, came forward with his complaint after reading about Linton's suit.

Mount St. Charles officials said they take sexual abuse charges very seriously.

"Mount St. Charles Academy is committed to ensuring the safety and well being of our students. None of our present faculty or staff has been the subject of any reports or complaints of sexually inappropriate behavior," Croteau wrote in the letter to parents.

In addition to the letter, Croteau said the faculty met with administrators, who encouraged them to discuss the situation with any student who might have questions.


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