Testimony Nearing End in Rape Trial of Former Priest

By Walt McClure
Fox 23
February 7, 2011

[with video]

Law enforcement, a DNA expert, and the ex-girlfriend of an alleged victim take the stand in the rape trial of former priest Gary Mercure.

The three helping to paint a not very pretty picture for the jury of how this case got to this point.

The details of Monday’s testimony will be among the last the jury will hear in this trial, including that Mercure's DNA could not be found on a potentially key piece of evidence, and an intimation that one of the alleged victim's was not completely truthful.

First on the stand was Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan, whose office began the investigation but could not prosecute it, and who later sent her notes over to Berkshire County's DA.

“I was only a conduit for the information,” said Hogan, who could not prosecute the case because even though most of the allegations occurred in her county and New York State, the statute of limitations had run out by the time she was made aware of them.

Hogan and defense attorney Michael Jennings had several tense exchanges during cross-examination when Jennings tried to say Hogan's notes made no mention of a Massachusetts connection involving one of the alleged victims.

“Isn't it fair to say that if at that time he had said something happened in Massachusetts that you would have written it down?” asked defense attorney Michael Jennings.

Kate Hogan responded, “Mr. Jennings, you're presuming that these are the only two conversations I had with (the victim), and they are not.”

A New York State Police DNA expert testified about testing several pairs of old underwear that belonged to another of the alleged victims, underwear that contained neither the victim's nor Mercure's DNA, but did have some belonging to the alleged victim's father.

The explanation was that the age of the evidence and how it was stored before testing may have degraded any DNA, and that the father may have had contact with that evidence since his son had, although the defense tried to emphasize the father angle.

The last witness was the former fiancee of the other victim.

Originally set to testify for the prosecution, she took the stand for the defense after trying to avoid the trial altogether.

She says her ex never mentioned any Massachusetts connection until much later, but did speak of the possibility of getting money through a lawsuit against Mercure and the Albany Catholic Diocese.

Attorney Michael Jennings asks, “Did he ever mention figures to you?”

The witness responds, “Ballpark.”

Jennings asks, “What was the ballpark?”

The witness says, “Couple of million.”

Jennings asks further, “Wasn't it $6 to $16 million that you told me upstairs a couple of minutes ago?”

The woman responds, “Yes.”

The trial is in recess for Tuesday, but the judge told the jury to expect another hour of testimony Wednesday morning, followed by about an hour of prosecution and defense closing arguments before they get charged and begin their deliberations.

Mercure is facing three counts of rape of a child with force and one count of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 years of age, although the judge has indicated his charge to the jury will also contain a lesser one including a charge of rape without force.


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