Corrections Weighs Ex-Priest's Return to Middleton

By John Quinn
Foster's Daily Democrat
April 3, 2009

CONCORD — The N.H. Department of Corrections should determine whether a defrocked priest and convicted sex offender can resume state residency within the next 30 days, according to spokesman Jeffrey Lyons.

Police arrested Robert V. Gale, 67, in 2002 at his property at 100 Lakeshore Drive in Middleton, on a charge of being a fugitive from justice after he was indicted in Massachusetts on four counts of rape of a child between 1980 and 1984, when the boy was 10 to 14 years old.

Middleton Police Chief Randy Sobel previously said he is concerned that Gale, who is currently living in Everett, Mass., wants to return to town since being released from a Massachusetts prison.

New Hampshire has up to 45 days to decide to accept a person who is on parole or probation from another state as part of an interstate compact that has both states agreeing to the exchange, he said.

"It is essentially a one-on-one swap, but that doesn't mean we exchange one sex offender for another," Lyons said.

Lyons said state probation and parole officers will investigate Gale's home, family, nearby treatment centers and providers and potential employers.

"We will look at all aspects of his plan," Lyons said, adding he knows the case has generated a lot of attention and concerned residents can submit letters, information or petitions to the DOC's Field Services Division via PO Box 1806, Concord, NH 03302-1806.

"We'll look at anything that pertains to the investigation," Lyons said

Gale, who was defrocked in 2006, pleaded guilty in 2004 to raping an altar boy. A civil suit claims that Gale, who was a priest at St. Joseph's Parish in Quincy, Mass., took a 12-year-old altar boy to a cabin at Camp Fatima in Barnstead, and then to his sister's home in Manchester, where he was accused of raping him in 1979.

He was released from the Massachusetts Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous after completing his 41?2- to 5-year sentence earlier this month and a judge in that state ordered Gale to move to New Hampshire to serve his 25-year probation.

According to the town's tax records, Gale still owns the property, but it is being rented. The forwarding address for the property is 130 Woodland Ave. in Manchester, according to town records.

Lyons said the state should make a decision by the end of April or the beginning of May.

While the state can announce when an investigation is ongoing and what decision was made in the case, the details of the investigation are confidential to protect the individual, Lyons said, adding Gale receives the same protection and privileges as any other person in the system.

Lyons said if accepted back, Gale would be supervised by state probation and parole officers who will probably be able to search Gale's home or work at any time to ensure he's complying with the conditions of his release. He added they will also monitor his safety.

Gale is currently registered in Massachusetts as the highest-level sex offender — those considered to be most at risk of reoffending. As part of his probation, he must undergo evaluations and treatment if officials deem them necessary.


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