NH Man Files Sex Abuse Suit against Diocese

By Lynne Tuohy
Foster's Daily Democrat
July 21, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) A second New Hampshire man has filed a lawsuit saying a now-deceased priest sexually abused him at a parish in Colebrook.

The 54-year-old Merrimack County man filed the suit Wednesday, using the name "John Doe" because he said he feared additional psychological harm if he identified himself publicly.

The suit, which names the Diocese of Manchester as a defendant, alleges the late Rev. George St. Jean sexually assaulted the plaintiff on numerous occasions in 1967 and 1968, when he was an altar boy at St. Brendan's Parish from ages 11 to 12.

Another man, John Labbe of Plymouth, filed suit in May saying he was abused by St. Jean when Labbe was a 9-year-old altar boy at the church.

St. Jean is one of 26 New Hampshire priests who had multiple complaints filed against them with the diocese, according to a list released by the Attorney General's Office last year. Both lawsuits say the diocese should have known St. Jean was "unfit, dangerous and a threat" to the health and safety of minors. St. Jean died in 1982.

Attorney Gordon MacDonald, who represents the diocese, said the church has notified the Attorney General's office of the lawsuit, and declined to comment further.

"We'll be responding as appropriate in court," MacDonald said.

MacDonald also represents the diocese in the Labbe case, which he said was still in the preliminary stages.

The two lawsuits named as a defendant the Washington, D.C.-based Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, which ordained and first assigned St. Jean to St. Brendan's parish in 1958. The missionary owns the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace, also in Colebrook and also where St. Jean worked.

Both lawsuits are filed in Hillsborough Superior Court North.


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