Victim Considering Lawsuit against School, Religious Order

Associated Press State & Local Wire
March 28, 2002

A 42-year-old man who says a high school teacher in Nashua sexually assaulted him in the 1970s is preparing to file a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic school, the man's lawyer said Thursday.

Peter Hutchins said his client, whom he did not name, was sexually assaulted by Bishop Guertin High School teacher Brother Roger Argencourt between 1973 and 1974. The client was a freshman at the time.

Hutchins said the lawsuit would name Argencourt, the school and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, the Rhode Island-based religious order that owns and operates the school.

On Wednesday, police said they had enough evidence, including admissions from Argencourt, to charge the brother with a felony sexual assault, but could not because the statute of limitations had expired.

Argencourt could not be reached for comment. A reporter's call to Brother Leo Labbe, the school's president, was disconnected when the reporter identified himself. A call to the religious order's Burrillville, R.I., headquarters was not immediately returned.

Police said another former student also has accused Argencourt of molesting him around the same period. Authorities said the statute of limitations has expired in that case, as well. The second victim is not part of the lawsuit.

Hutchins said his client, who no longer lives in New Hampshire, is in therapy and counseling to deal with the assault.

In a written statement Wednesday, Labbe said Argencourt had not taught at the school for several years, but lived there and was working as the school's student activities director when the allegations surfaced in January.

Labbe said Argencourt was removed from the school immediately, but did not say where he is now. Students and their parents were told about the allegations Wednesday.

Hutchins said he is dismayed that it took so long for school officials to make the allegations public.

"After reading the press release and the stated desire of the school to disclose these matters to their students, faculty and the public, I am bothered that this disclosure wasn't made back in January when this brother was dismissed," he said.

Argencourt formerly taught history and was head of the school's social studies department.

Labbe also said the school's lawyers recently had given him additional information about the allegations against Argencourt and that the school would investigate immediately. He did not provide details of that information.

The news came days after The Associated Press reported that similar allegations have been made against two other Guertin teachers, also members of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.

An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation continues, identified one of the teachers as Brother Guy Beaulieu, but did not name the other.

Beaulieu, a mathematics teacher and golf coach who began teaching at the school in the 1970s, moved to the brothers' retirement home in Burrillville, R.I., in 1990. The official did not know if the other teacher still taught at the school.

The official said Argencourt is not the unidentified instructor.

The official also said Beaulieu and the unidentified brother are accused of sexually assaulting pupils, one of whom was 14, between 1977 and 1978.

At the time of all of the alleged assaults, the school had only male pupils. It began admitting girls in 1992 and now enrolls about 800 pupils, mostly from New Hampshire and Massachusetts.


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