Diocese of Manchester adds three names to list of priest accused of abuse

Union Leader [Manchester NH]

April 10, 2024

By Paul Feely

The Diocese of Manchester has added three names to its online list of dozens of priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse going back to 1950, church officials announced this week.

The three new entries represent the first additions to the Diocese’s Restoring Trust website since it was launched in 2019, a spokesperson for the Diocese said.

The Restoring Trust website provides the year each priest was ordained, his parish assignments and his status, which ranges from criminal conviction to being defrocked to “assigned to a life of prayer and penance.”

The list includes 76 names of priests, 51 of whom are dead. Most of the referenced cases have been concluded. Two are listed as pending.

The information and additional resources are available at catholicnh.org/restoringtrust.

The Rev. George Desjardins has been added under the category “Cases Concluded” for a recently received report of abuse that took place more than 40 years ago, officials said. Desjardins, who has has been retired since 2002, is prohibited from ministry.

Desjardins served at St. Peter, Farmington (beginning May 29, 1959); St. Anthony, Manchester (June 12, 1959); Sacred Heart, Lebanon (Sept. 7, 1966); St. John the Baptist, Manchester (Oct. 4, 1968); Holy Redeemer, West Lebanon (April 2, 1973); Sacred Heart, Manchester (April 23, 1974); St. George, Manchester (June 20, 1985). After retirement in 2002, though not assigned by the diocesan bishop, he is reported to have assisted at Sacred Heart Parish, Concord; St. John the Evangelist Parish, Concord, and St. John Regional School, Concord.

The Rev. Matthew Schultz has been listed on the Manchester diocese’s website under the category “Cases in Process” — these are cases involving living Diocesan priests for which the canonical proceedings are not complete. Schultz is prohibited from ministry.

“Out of respect for those involved and because the case is still in process, no further information will be disclosed at this time,” the Diocese said in a statement.

Schultz was assigned to St. Michael, Exeter (beginning June 21, 2017); Gate of Heaven, Lancaster (June 27, 2018); Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Rochester (July 13, 2022); and St. Leo, Gonic (July 13, 2022). Although not assigned by the diocesan bishop, he is reported to have assisted at Mount Royal Academy North in Lancaster.

The Rev. André Thibodeau has been listed on the diocese as a deceased priest accused of sexual abuse of a minor for a report received after his death. He died in 2015.

Ordained in 1971, Thibodeau was assigned to St. Paul, Franklin (beginning June 8, 1971); St. Mary, Manchester (June 11, 1975); St. Augustine, Manchester (March 10, 1976); Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Manchester (March 29, 1982); St. Theresa, Henniker (Jan. 15, 1987); St. Mary, Hillsboro (June 21, 2000); and as chaplain at St. Teresa Rehabilitation and Nursing Center (June 2, 2008).

“Law enforcement has been notified of the reports concerning all three priests,” the Diocese said in a statement. “Whenever it becomes aware of a report of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest, deacon, diocesan employee, or volunteer, the Diocese ensures that the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office is notified, even if the misconduct took place many years ago.”

The Diocese said it strives to keep children safe in its parishes, schools, and camps, completing more than 30,000 safe environment training and background checks on adults since 2001.

In March, the Diocese of Manchester agreed to settle a claim of child sexual abuse from the 1970s against a former priest.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian said his client, whom he referred to as a “courageous childhood clergy sexual abuse victim,” settled a claim with Diocese “in the low six figures” through a settlement program.

According to Garabedian, the man was sexually abused when he was about 15 or 16 by the Rev. Alfred L. Jannetta, when the priest was assigned to St. Paul’s Church in Franklin around 1973 and 1974.

Garabedian said no lawsuit was filed because the statute of limitations had expired on the alleged abuse.

Jannetta died Dec. 22, 2005, after a lengthy illness. He was 64.

Garabedian said the victim also was sexually abused “numerous times” at age 8 by an unidentified priest while attending a two-week session at Camp Fatima in Gilmanton Iron Works.

Anyone with information pertaining to sexual abuse in the Church is encouraged to make a report to law enforcement. For information on how to report abuse, to request counseling or other services, or to learn more about how the Diocese of Manchester works to create a safe environment in all its ministries, visit catholicnh.org/safety.