Ex-Mass. Priest Admits Soliciting for Sex with Boy

By Scott Brooks
Union Leader
November 18, 2003

Nashua -- A former Massachusetts priest pleaded guilty yesterday to soliciting sex with a 15-year-old boy, striking a last-minute deal with prosecutors. Frederick Guthrie, former priest at St. Ann Church in Gloucester, confessed in court to attempting to seduce a minor in an Internet chat room. Guthrie, retired since 2000, was to meet the boy in Nashua and take him to a hotel for sex. His plea caps his sentence at 12 months. If the case had gone to trial, Guthrie faced a maximum penalty of seven years in state prison. Assistant County Attorney Roger "Rusty" Chadwick requested Guthrie, 67, also serve five years probation, during which time he would be barred from unsupervised contact with anyone under 16. He also would not be allowed to possess or view any pornographic material. Guthrie was arrested Nov. 6, 2001, at Hayward's Ice Cream in Nashua, where he had arranged to meet a boy named Gary. They boy turned out to be an undercover policeman. Using an American Online account and a false name, Guthrie spoke over several days with the officer, who impersonated a 15-year-old under in computer conversations. Chadwick said the officer identified himself as a sexually confused minor and at times stopped their conversation, saying his mother had walked into the room.

Guthrie told "Gary" he could help him sort out his sexual identity.

A Nashua undercover officer who looks young found Guthrie waiting at Hayward's Ice Cream on the day of their scheduled meeting. Guthrie identified himself to the officer by his online pseudonym, leading to his arrest. After the arrest, Guthrie told police he was only trying to counsel the boy. Police seized two computers from his Newbury, Mass., home, which resulted in separate charges of child pornography. The charges are still pending in Massachusetts. Guthrie has no prior record of sexual misconduct. Guthrie will be sentenced early next year. Defense attorney Paul Twomey requested the 60-day delay so he could "get medical information" on Guthrie. The defendant had a quadruple bypass not long before his arrest and continues to suffer from post-surgical depression, he said. Guthrie was also abusing alcohol at the time of the chats, Twomey said. Twomey also took issue with any connection between the allegations and Guthrie's association with the Catholic Church. Guthrie never identified himself as a priest during the online chats.


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