North Dakota high court hears appeal in priest attack case

Forum News Service

Nov. 1, 2019

By Matt Henson

A 43-year-old Minnesota man sentenced to 13 years for attacking a North Dakota priest in 2018 is appealing his conviction for attempted murder before the state’s Supreme Court.

In January 2018, Chad Vincent Legare of Alexandria, Minn., traveled more than 300 miles to Anamoose to confront Father Robert Wapenski because he believed the priest had sexually abused his girlfriend. He argues that his attack on Wapenski was justified because he wanted to prevent future abuse and claimed that the Catholic Diocese of Fargo and police weren’t doing enough to stop the alleged abuse from happening.

The district court handling the case denied Legare’s request to use the defense that the attack was justified because it found there was no evidence of imminent danger to his girlfriend. McHenry County prosecutors said the girlfriend recanted part of her story and was not in the area during the attack.

Without the ability to mount a defense based on the justification that he hoped to prevent a sexual assault, Legare entered an Alford plea, meaning he did not admit to criminal activity but acknowledged a jury could find him guilty based on the evidence.

In February, Legare was sentenced for the attack, where police say he broke into Wapenski’s home and ambushed him, beating the priest and leaving him unconscious after wrapping a computer cord around his neck.

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