Former Notre Dame Principal Cleared

By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette
April 2, 2004

FITCHBURG - A former principal of Notre Dame High School has been acquitted of charges that he assaulted a student in 1968.

Brother Louis Laperle, 76, of Pascoag, R.I., was cleared last week in Fitchburg District Court of charges that he assaulted a student between Jan. 1 and June 30, 1968, when he was principal. He is now retired.

Brother Laperle was charged with three misdemeanor charges of assault and battery and was found not guilty on all charges, according to Elizabeth Stammo, spokeswoman for Mr. Conte.

Mr. Conte said last year, at the time Brother Laperle was charged, that the accusation involved indecent assault and battery, but that charge did not exist in 1968 when the alleged incidents happened, so he could only be charged with assault and battery.

The accuser, who has not been named publicly, is a 52-year-old Lunenburg resident. State police reports said the man left the school because of the alleged abuse.

In another development, the Rev. Jean-Paul Gagnon has been charged with indecent assault and battery on a person over age 14 at a time when he was pastor of St. Augustine parish in Millville.

According to a statement from the office of District Attorney John J. Conte, the offense occurred in Sutton on Oct. 11, 2002. The accuser, who has not been named publicly, was described as a man who was active in the Millville parish.

The criminal charge was issued through Uxbridge District Court. Rev. Gagnon is scheduled to be arraigned there on May 17.

Mr. Conte said the allegation against Rev. Gagnon was investigated by the state police detectives unit assigned to his office.

Rev. Gagnon took personal leave in October 2002 after Timothy P. Staney of Worcester, and his parents, Corrine and Joseph Staney of Spencer, filed a civil suit against him.

The suit alleges that Rev. Gagnon sexually abused Timothy Staney while he was serving at Holy Name of Jesus parish in Worcester. Rev. Gagnon has denied all the allegations.

He remained pastor in Millville until last July, when Bishop Daniel P. Reilly put him on administrative leave so he could appoint a permanent pastor there to serve the parishioners. The bishop's action came after an investigation by the diocesan review board.


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