Priest Arraigned on Sexual Abuse Charges

By Ryan Burgess
Capital News 9

November 18, 2008

[with video]

A Troy priest was arraigned Tuesday in Berkshire Superior Court on multiple sexual assault charges. Ryan Burgess tells us why he is being charged across the border in Massachusetts.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. - The Reverend Gary Mercure pleaded not guilty Tuesday to multiple charges of sexually abusing children. Mercure entered Berkshire Superior Court in Pittsfield, accompanied only by his attorney. None of his alleged victims were in court as the Troy priest officially faced several charges, including two counts of rape of a child with force and one count of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. This alleged victim is now a 33-year-old man. Mercure is also charged with another count of rape of a child with force. This is in connection with a man now 32-years-old.

Although 60-year-old Mercure was a pastor for 33 years in the Albany Diocese, these crimes are alleged to have been committed in Berkshire County in the mid to late 1980s.

"We were hopeful that this wouldn't happen, because of his voluntary cooperation with the investigation and the very positive results that pointed away from his guilt. But nonetheless, the Commonwealth made a determination to charge him and now we're going to have to deal with it," said defense attorney Michael Jennings.

A group called SNAP, which stands for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, spoke out against Mercure.

"As time goes on, the truth will be exposed and we'll know just how much access this man had to children in how many parishes. And we'll find out when and how long the Diocese came about this information," said SNAP director Mark Lyman.

Mercure was removed from public ministry in August by the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese. One woman who says she was abused by a priest in a case unrelated to Mercure's says more victims should come forward.

"It's hell because the one thing that I had my whole life was my faith. And going through this particular type of circumstance, it's like having your faith rug pulled right out from under you," said Maryanne Snow.

For now, a pretrial hearing is scheduled for May of 2009, but officials close to the case say that date could change.


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