Ex-Pastor Accused of Trying to Lure Boy Priest Allegedly Tried to Contact Teen on Net
By Douglas Belkin and Fran Riley
November 7, 2001
The former pastor of a Roman Catholic Church in Gloucester was arrested by police yesterday outside an ice cream stand in Nashua, where he allegedly expected to meet a teenage boy for a tryst, police said.
The Rev. Frederick L. Guthrie, 65, thought he had been chatting on the Internet with a 15-year-old boy for the last 10 days, police said. But he was actually communicating with a detective from the Nashua police youth services department.
The retired priest, who lives in Newbury, was released from police custody last night and is scheduled to be arraigned today in Nashua District Court on a charge of using a computer for prohibited activity. Neighbors saw police remove computer equipment from Guthrie's home last night.
Guthrie became the pastor at St. Anne's Church in Gloucester about five years ago after serving at Immaculate Conception in Salem, parishioners said. Earlier this year, he had a heart operation and he never regained his full strength, parishioners said. He retired in June.
"I'm totally shocked; this is just unbelievable," said Sue Demitri, who has been employed by St. Anne's since 1975. "I really had no idea."
Known as stern but fair, parishioners said Guthrie was a good manager with a keen eye for the business affairs of the church, and also seemed quite devout.
"He was very traditional," said Vito Piscitello. "His sermons were decent; he always related them to everyday life.
St. Anne's has seen its share of tragedy this year. Its parishioners included at least one of the three fishermen who died this summer on the Starbound, which was struck by a tanker this summer and sank.
Guthrie worked closely with Gloucester's fishermen, Dimitri said. He attended fishery commission meetings and was on the board of the committee overseeing the restoration of the fish pier that burned down.
The Boston Archdiocese has been racked by sexual abuse cases involving priests, and Cardinal Bernard Law has announced changes in how it deals with offending priests to protect parishioners.
Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey said the present policy is to take prompt action against an accused priest.
"We remove him from the ministry pending the investigation," she said.
The changes follow cases including that of the Reverend John J. Geoghan, who is awaiting trial on charges that he sexual abused 70 youngsters between 1962 to 1995, while serving a priest at six parishes. Geoghan was defrocked in 1998 and has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges of child rape and indecent assault and battery.
In a case involving victims of convicted pedophile Christopher Reardon and the Archdiocese of Boston, one victim and his mother have sued the Reverend Jon C. Martin, the priest who supervised the church rectory in Middleton where Reardon molested young boys. The suit, filed two weeks ago in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges that Martin had been warned that Reardon acted inappropriately with children, yet failed to investigate and take action to prevent further harm.
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