Altar Boys Detail Sex Assaults in Trial of Farmington Priest

By Michael McCord
Union Leader (Manchester, NH)
July 31, 1998

DOVER Two former altar boys, who authorities charge were repeatedly sexually assaulted by the Rev. Roger Fortier, gave graphic and detailed testimony yesterday.

"I don't want to see him as a man of God if he could do this to me," one of the alleged victims, a 14-year-old from Farmington said on the stand yesterday during the second day of trail in Strafford County Superior Court.

Fortier, former priest at St. Peter's Parish in Farmington, is accused of sexually assaulting the two former altar boys between 1994 and his arrest on Oct. 28.

Both of the alleged victims testified, the youngest and leading off in the morning.

Under questioning by prosecutor Lincoln Soldati, the lanky adolescent described to jurors how his relationship with Fortier allegedly evolved from friendship between an older man and an altar boy watching movies, sharing meals and trips to the mall to sexual situations.

The teenager rarely looked at Fortier while describing in a halting voice the watching of pornographic movies, shared showers and the sexual acts allegedly performed by Fortier beginning in May 1997 and lasting until the end of October.

"I thought it was disgusting . . . I was scared . . . I felt I was trapped, didn't know what to do," he said about his emotions at the time of the first incident.

When Soldati asked him why he didn't tell anyone about the alleged incidents, the youngster said he was afraid no one would believe him. "He was a great friend of my family, a role model, a priest. Everybody respected him."

During cross-examination, defense attorney Stephen Jeffco raised issues about the boy's mental stability, asking him about the medication he takes for mood swings and testimony about a "feeling of being possessed by the devil" at St. Peter's before telling his mother about the sexual assaults.

Later, while questioning the boy's mother, Jeffco asked about the boy's various hospitalizations in Massachusetts for psychiatric problems and an incident in which the boy lied to authorities while accusing his mother of abusing him.

The second victim, now 18, testified in the afternoon and described in monotone voice a similar pattern of alleged seduction, which began for him when Fortier provided alcohol to him. He said it lasted for more than 18 months when he was 14 and 15.

"I didn't want everyone to think I was gay," said the young man, who is now the father of an 11-month-old girl. He didn't come forward because his father and Fortier were "the best of friends" and he didn't think his father would believe him.

Jeffco asked in cross-examination if the young man had come forward to police after Fortier's arrest only because of the money that could be made from a civil suit.

The young man said there was no talk about a civil suit before he told his father about the alleged incidents. "I am positive."

He came forward, he said, because his girlfriend encouraged him, telling him it wasn't something he could keep to himself any longer.

The painful testimony clearly affected some members of the 10-woman, 4-man jury, who at various times looked away from the witnesses and took deep breaths.

The prosecution is expected to finish its case today when the trial resumes at 9:30 a.m.

Fortier, 51, served at St. Peter's Parish from February 1991 until his arrest. He is charged with eight counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault and eight counts of felonious sexual assault. If convicted on all charges, he faces a potential state prison sentence of more than 175 years. He is free on $ 20,000 bail.


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