Priest Pleads Guilty to Sexual Assault

Associated Press
February 28, 1994

KEENE, N.H. — A suspended Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty Monday to sexually assaulting an altar boy and was sentenced to three to six years in prison.

The Rev. Leo Shea, 67, pleaded guilty to felonious sexual assault. Under terms of his plea bargain in Cheshire County Superior Court, Shea can ask to have his sentenced suspended in 12 to 18 months if he completes a sexual offender's program in prison.

Shea is on administrative leave from the Manchester Diocese. He was charged with having sex with a boy while he was a priest at the Immaculate Conception Church in Troy. His accuser, Laurence St. Laurent, now 26, said he had sexual relations with Shea from 1981 to 1986.

"I was afraid to come forward. This is not the kind of thing you want to come out and tell just anybody," he said.

St. Laurent, who still has a lawsuit pending against Shea, said he was satisfied with the sentence.

Shea's attorney, Clifford Ross, told the judge he thought the plea agreement was in everyone's best interest, and he hoped Shea would benefit from the sexual offender's program.

"He's sorry for any harm he's done to anybody in his life," Ross said.

Shea also faces charges on Cape Cod in Massachusetts of sexually assaulting eight teen-age boys when he was a priest there in the 1970s and 1980s. No trial date has been set.


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