Judge Rejects Cote's Appeal

Associated Press, carried in Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 5, 2003

Concord, N.H. -- A priest on Tuesday lost his bid to keep private a file that names him in the state's church sex-abuse investigation.

The Rev. Roland Cote, whose admitted affair with a teenage boy was reported last summer, had filed a last-minute request Monday to keep the file sealed, just as the state attorney general's office prepared to release 9,000 pages of documents of its statewide investigation. The request delayed the mass release by an hour.

Judge Kathleen McGuire issued an order Tuesday afternoon denying Cote's request, a day after presiding over a hearing in Merrimack County Superior Court. She had agreed to withhold Cote's file until she had come to a decision.

"I am pleased that the court recognized the importance of full disclosure of the state's investigative file in this historic case," Attorney General Peter Heed said. The state released the documents Tuesday.

Cote resigned from a Jaffrey church last year after the affair was reported and Manchester Bishop John McCormack was harshly criticized for appointing him. He formerly served at St. Louis de Gonzague in Nashua.

County prosecutors investigated Cote last spring, but did not press charges because the boy's exact age could not be determined. They believe he was at least 16, the age of consent in New Hampshire. Church officials have said the boy was 18.

Cote's lawyers argued that releasing parts of the file would damage his reputation. Cote was never charged and he cooperated with the state, they said.

Most of the state's information about Cote had already been reported in the media, Assistant Attorney General William Delker said at the hearing.

"They've been not just reported but widely reported," he said.


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