Child-Abusing Priest Shea Dies in Manchester

Union Leader

October 10, 2008

MANCHESTER One of the first New Hampshire priests to be prosecuted in an early wave of revelations of sexually abusive priests died yesterday at Catholic Medical Center.

The Rev. Leo Shea, 82, had been living at the Peterson Residence, a home for infirm and aged priests.

In 1994, Shea was sent to state prison for three to six years after pleading guilty to sex crimes involving a 14-year-old altar boy from a parish in Troy in 1982. At the time of his conviction, authorities said 35 to 40 other victims had surfaced from several communities in New Hampshire. He was paroled in 1997, according to

Shea, a Nashua native, was never defrocked, but he retired in 1993, and diocesan authorities stripped him of his ability to perform priestly duties. He was named in civil suits filed in 2002, and settlements by the Diocese of Manchester involved seven of Shea's victims, according to the Web site, which tracks abusive priests.

His conviction preceded the clergy sex abuse scandal of 2002, which originated in the Archdiocese of Boston.

It resulted in the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law and the damaged reputation of several of his associates, including Manchester Bishop John McCormack.


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