Priest Charged in Sex Assault

By Michael McCord
Union Leader (Manchester, NH)
October 29, 1997

FARMINGTON A local priest was arrested yesterday morning and charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy.

Farmington police arrested the Rev. Roger A. Fortier, 51, who lives in the rectory at St. Peter's Church in Farmington. Fortier was arrested at 1:20 a.m. at his residence after police searched the rectory Monday evening.

Fortier was held overnight at Strafford County Jail and was released on $ 20,000 personal recognizance bail following his arraignment yesterday morning in Rochester District Court. Fortier was charged with one count of felonious sexual assault, a Class B felony. If convicted, Fortier could face a prison sentence of three and a half to seven years.

Farmington Police Chief Scott R. Roberge said Fortier's arrest was the result of a report made Sunday by a parent of the boy. The police interviewed the boy and secured a search warrant for the 90 Central St. rectory.

Roberge said the alleged assault took place within the past two weeks.

A number of items that allegedly corroborated information given by the boy were removed by the police. Roberge would not elaborate on the nature of items taken as evidence.

Fortier has served at St. Peter's Parish since February 1991. According to 1996 figures, the parish is regularly attended by 1,000 residents from 326 families. Fortier has served at six other parishes in Manchester, Nashua, Plaistow and Rochester since he was ordained by the Catholic Diocese of Manchester in 1980.

Diocesan spokesman Matthew McSorley said yesterday that Bishop Leo O'Neil "expresses sadness at the news of this allegation. He shares his prayers and concerns with the families involved and to Father Fortier. He holds special prayers for members of St. Peter's Parish during this trying time."

McSorley said that according to diocesan policy, Fortier has been placed on administrative leave and his "faculties have been withdrawn." This means that Fortier cannot perform Mass, hear confession or oversee any other church sacraments until his legal situation is resolved.

Fortier's arrest comes three years after Keene priest Gordon MacRae was convicted of raping a 15-year-old boy during "pastoral counseling" sessions in 1983 at St. Bernard's Church rectory. MacRae is serving a 331/2-to-67-year sentence at the state prison in Concord and later admitted to molesting three other boys.


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