Priest Charged with Sexual Assault of Young Boys

United Press International
July 5, 1984

A Roman Catholic priest was charged Thursday on five counts of sexual assault on three teenage boys, all of them under the age of 16 years.

The Rev. P. Henry Leech, 34, an assistant pastor at St. Jude's Church in Lincoln, was arraigned in District Court. He pleaded innocent to the five counts before Judge Orist D. Chaharyn.

Lt. Richard M. Wheeler, detective commander for the state police, said the charges stemmed from a seven-week investigation prompted by a complaint brought to police attention by the state Department for Children and their Families.

The priest, who was ordained in 1980, turned himself in to state police early Thursday morning, Wheeler said.

The detective said the incidents allegedly took place between November 1982 and April 30 of this year at St. Joseph's rectory in Woonsocket and at an unspecified location in Smithfield. Leech had worked as an assistant pastor at St. Joseph's for two months after he was ordained.

All three of the youths were described as church volunteers at St. Jude's, St. Joseph's and St. Philip's in Greenville, where Leech worked as a deacon assistant before he was ordained.


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