More Charges against Priest Are Expected

By Roger Amsden
Union Leader (Manchester NH)
April 29, 2002

ALTON — Belknap County Sheriff Dan Collis says he expects more charges will be filed in both Belknap County and Cheshire County against a 57-year-old priest who was arrested Friday on sexual assault charges.

The Rev. George H. Robichaud, pastor of St. Joan of Arc parish and St. Cecilia parish in Wolfeboro, has been charged with aggravated felonious sexual assault on a former altar boy from St. Anthony Church in Swanzey, who was less than 16 years old at the time of the alleged incident.

Investigators say the assault took place in 1985 at a home Robichaud owns in Sanbornton on Lake Winnisquam.

"I expect we will be bringing more charges and that Cheshire County authorities will bring charges for offenses that allegedly took place in that county," said Collis.

He said that Belknap County Deputy Sheriff Denise Miller and Detective Chris Cost are working with the Cheshire County Sheriff's Department and Keene police on the investigation, details of which are contained in an affidavit filed in Franklin District Court in connection with Robichaud's arrest in the alleged Sanbornton assault.

According to the affidavit the sexual assault occurred while the boy (identified as "AB") was asleep at Robichaud's Sanbornton home.

The affidavit also describes another sexual assault which allegedly took place in 1984 when the altar boy went with Robichaud to Rome where they visited the Vatican.

The victim, who was interviewed by Deputy Sheriff Miller on April 19, said he had contact with Robichaud when he was an altar boy and the contact with him increased over time. The two would have dinner in the rectory and sometimes watch television.

"After about a year of this contact, Robichaud who would always hug and kiss AB, was now having AB lie down in Robichaud's bed and French kiss AB," the affidavit states.

The victim said the 1985 Sanbornton incident scared him and that no other incidents took place after that and that he did not disclose the alleged sexual abuse to anyone until 1996.

The victim called Robichaud on April 22 with investigators recording the call, a one-party phone tap which was approved by the Attorney General's Office.

During the call the victim told Robichaud he needed to talk to him and Robichaud apologized to the victim, saying that he had been drinking at those times when he would "play affectionately with him."

Robichaud said he has been in recovery for 10 years, has learned about sexuality, and has not hurt anyone since them.

"Robichaud agreed with AB how he had gone over the line," the affidavit states.

Belknap County Attorney Loren Noether said that Robichaud "ingratiated himself to the victim through church activities and then sexually abused the victim."

Robichaud turned himself in to Belknap County authorities on Friday morning and was arraigned on the felony sex assault charge Friday afternoon in Franklin District Court.

A probable cause hearing is set for May 13 on the charge. Robichaud is free on $ 50,000 personal recognizance bail and $ 5,000 cash or surety and must abide by numerous restrictions, including moving out of the Saint Cecilia rectory and living instead at his Sanbornton home. He may not go within 50 yards of anyone under the age of 18 and cannot travel outside Merrimack or Belknap counties. He also must attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings three times a week and is subject to random urinalysis.

The Manchester diocese has placed Robichaud on administrative leave and announced the move to parishioners of Saint Joan of Arc and Saint Cecelia parishes at weekend masses.

Robichaud previously served in parishes in Ashland, Manchester and West Swanzey and was slated to leave St. Cecilia and Saint Joan of Arc parishes, which are planning to merge, in June.


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