Rev. Gerald Chalifour: AG’s Office Says Abuse Dated Back to 1960s

By Benjamin Kepple
Union Leader
March 4, 2003

[Back to main article of this feature, with links to other articles and documents.]

Despite knowing that the Rev. Gerald Chalifour had committed sexual misconduct with a minor as far back as the 1960s, the Diocese of Manchester continued to let Chalifour serve as a priest until Feb. 15, 2002, a report from the state Attorney General’s office has said.

The report also said that the diocese took no action to restrict Chalifour’s ministry after reports of the first incident surfaced in 1969, and further revealed that only confrontation about Chalifour’s abuse prompted the diocese to act in even a limited fashion.

“The Diocese learned that Chalifour attempted to sexually assault another altar boy in the early 1980s. When that boy’s parents confronted the Bishop about this misconduct, the Diocese sent Chalifour to the Diocesan therapist for a few months. Chalifour’s ministry was not curtailed at that time and he continued to have contact with minors. . .,” the report said.

“In 1988, the Diocese learned that Chalifour had abused an altar boy at an earlier assignment in the 1960s. The Diocese accepted Chalifour’s assurance that he had not reoffended and took no steps to curtail his ministry. Only in 1991, after the victim threatened to pursue legal action, did the Diocese send Chalifour for further psychiatric evaluation,” it continued.

Chalifour retired in 1992 from active ministry, but didn’t stop serving as a priest. According to the report, Chalifour filled in at parishes around the state until last year, a stint that included a 22-month term as a parish administrator in Goffstown. It was only until the diocese publicly identified priests that had abuse allegations lodged against them that Chalifour was removed from ministry.

In the 1969 incident at St. Kathryn Parish in Hudson, the report said that Chalifour had sexually assaulted one minor, an incident that resulted in the parish council asking then-bishop Ernest Primeau for Chalifour not to return after a health leave.

However, while Primeau privately offered to refer Chalifour to a psychologist or psychiatrist, no action was taken against Chalifour, except a transfer.

“If what is reported is true (and it seems to be), I feel convinced that Father Chalifour is sick and needs help,” wrote the Rev. Aime Boiselle, who had replaced Chalifour, to Primeau in Oct. 1969. However, Boiselle added, “and he can return to ministry to continue his priestly work.”

Last May, Boiselle himself resigned as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Concord after abuse allegations dating from the 1960s were directed against him.

Chalifour returned to work in 1970, serving for a short while at Holy Family Parish in Gorham and then moving to St. Peter Parish in Farmington. There, the report said, he also engaged in sexual contact with two boys, although the diocese did not learn about either incident until just recently.

The diocese also did not learn until two decades later about Chalifour’s inappropriate sexual conduct with altar boys while he was a priest at St. John the Baptist Parish in Suncook during the early 1960s, the report said. That also resulted in more counseling for Chalifour.

But in 1982, when Chalifour was pastor of St. Theresa Parish in Manchester, police became involved after Chalifour attempted to assault an altar boy sexually on a trip to Cape Cod. According to the report, authorities encouraged the boy’s parents to pursue the matter, and they did so with then-Bishop Odore Gendron. Chalifour again was sent to counseling afterwards, the report said.

“(The victim’s) parents met with the Bishop approximately a week after the incident. They gave him what (the victim’s) mother described as the ‘original’ police report. Notably, despite a thorough search, this police report was not included in the files obtained by the State from the Diocese during the investigation,” the report said.

“When (the victim’s) parents provided this information to Bishop Gendron, he seemed unfazed. (The victim) clearly remembers Bishop Gendron telling him: “(S)o what, what do you want me to do about it?” the report said.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.