County Police Charge Former Germantown Priest with Abuse

By Michael Brooks
The Sentinel
July 3, 2008

Montgomery County police have charged another Roman Catholic priest with child abuse.

The Rev. Aaron Joseph Cote, 56, turned himself in at the First District station in Rockville, police said. According to police spokeswoman Lucille Baur, police notified Cote that they were obtaining a warrant for his arrest, prompting Cote to return to Maryland from his current home in New York and turn himself in.

Rev. Aaron Joseph Cote

According to police, during the summer of 2001, Cote worked as a part-time Youth Minister at Mother of Seton Parish in Germantown. Cote was counseling the 14-year-old victim, Brandon Rains of Frederick, now 21. Cote brought the victim to an apartment in Germantown and, on several occasions, "engaged in inappropriate personal sexual activity in the victim's presence" and touched the victim inappropriately, police said.

When he was 18 in 2005, Rains filed a civil suit against Cote, a priest of the Dominican order. The suit ended with the Dominican order agreeing to pay a $1.2 million settlement.

According to published reports, the trial revealed that Cote has had a long history with child abuse that extends well before, and after, his 2001 encounter with Rains.

Several witnesses said they noticed Cote took an unusual interest in boys, even though the youth groups he led included girls. In 1989, Cote was transferred from his position overseeing two parishes in Ohio to Peru after the Dominican order headquarters in New York began receiving complaints from concerned parents. The same happened in Peru, a priest who lived with Cote in Peru said during the civil trial.

After the conclusion of the trial, Cote was suspended from his parish in Rhode Island, where he had been transferred after Rains' parents complained to the Dominicans in 2003. It also resulted in Montgomery County police reopening their investigation of Cote, which was suspended pending further information when he moved to Rhode Island, said Baur.

Cote served part-time at Mother of Seton between 1997 and 2002, and at St. Jane Francis de Chantal Parish in Bethesda from 1997 to 1999, police said. He is being held on a $250,000 bond.

Photo Courtesy of Montgomery County Police Dept.


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