Maguire Transferred Despite Allegations. Bishop John B. McCormack Makes Statement Regarding Joseph Maguire

Union Leader (Manchester NH)
May 18, 2002

DOVER — A former priest at St. Joseph Church who admitted sexually assaulting altar boys there was moved to the parish by the Catholic Diocese of Manchester after telling church leaders he had molested a young Hudson parishioner in the 1970s.

The Rev. Joseph Maguire reportedly told Dover police in April 1986 he had molested a boy while serving at St. John Evangelist in Hudson, and that then-Bishop Odore Gendron handled the church's investigation of the abuse. He also admitted to abusing other children while serving at the Dover parish.

Charges were never filed against Maguire because the statute of limitations had run out, Dover Police Chief William Fenniman said during a press conference yesterday.

The Manchester diocese revoked Maguire's pastoral ministry earlier this year, along with six other priests facing allegations of sexually molesting children. That act left the priests unable to celebrate Mass, administer sacraments or conduct any form of priestly duties. The diocese said Maguire no longer resides in New Hampshire.

Dover police learned of the molestation allegations against Maguire in March 1986 through an anonymous letter claiming the priest had been molesting boys, taking nude pictures of them and letting them drink alcohol. Investigators set out to identify and interview the youths as well as the priest.

Maguire, who by then had transferred to a religious order in Waltham, Mass., was interviewed by Detective Brian Miller at the Dover police station on April 23, 1986.

According to the report, Maguire told the detective about an incident that occurred when he was serving at St. John the Evangelist in Hudson. Maguire stated he had become "too emotionally involved in a male juvenile and it led to things that he now regrets."

"He told me that he sexually abused a boy," the report said, and that the diocese was notified. Gendron, now retired, was listed as the one in charge of the complaint.

"Father MaQuire (sic) told me that this problem was taken care of thru the Diocese of Manchester and it was shortly after that time that Father MaQuire was transferred to the St. Joseph church in Dover," Miller wrote in the report.

Maguire also admitted he had sexually assaulted four St. Joseph altar boys during the late 1970s, mostly in the church rectory. Fenniman said the molestations involved fondling, touching, sleeping naked with at least one of the boys and using some sort of vibrating device on their genitals. He also said Maguire took the boys on trips.

"He would take some of these young individuals to a hotel in Hampton," Fenniman said. "He would sleep naked in his bed and get one of the altar boys to get in bed with him. The other boys would sleep on the floor and he would try to get them into the bed."

Maguire denied giving the youths alcohol or taking photos of them.

In his 1986 interview, Maguire said that "to his recollection" he had not sexually abused any other boys other than the ones he'd confessed having molested. But Fenniman said he believes there are more victims.

"It's highly unlikely those were the only victims," Fenniman said.

Police documents also note that Maguire sent authorities records of psychological treatment he received during the 1970s, including at a treatment center for priests, apparently for sexual issues.

Miller wrote that the records refer to Maguire being treated for difficulties with his sexual identity. The records also refer to "an incident at age 11 involving a problem with his sexual identity," but do not elaborate. When the diocese received a report from the Hudson Police Department about Maguire, the resolve was that Maguire would receive psychiatric treatment and not return to Hudson, Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack said in a statement released yesterday.

McCormack said that would never happen today.

"If the diocese were to receive such a report today, it would act immediately to take the priest out of active ministry while any investigations were being conducted, and the diocese would cooperate fully with civil authorities, as did Bishop Gendron in both 1975 and 1986," McCormack said.

At the time of the 1986 investigation, Gendron told police it was "entirely possible that a priest could be involved in deviant behavior, as they are all humans and can make mistakes," the report said.

Attempts to reach Gendron yesterday were unsuccessful.

Maguire was named in a civil lawsuit filed earlier this month by one of the alleged victims who claimed he was molested by the retired priest while Maguire was at St. Joseph Church.

A second victim is set to move forward with a suit as well, but it has not yet been decided if Maguire and the Manchester diocese will be named in the suit or just the diocese, Christine Rockefeller, the victim's attorney, said yesterday.

Maguire, now retired, was ordained on Feb. 10, 1973. He served at Holy Trinity Church in Somersworth from February to June 1973, when he was sent to St. Matthew Church in Whitefield until September. On Sept. 5, 1973, Maguire was transferred to St. John Evangelist Church in Hudson. From there, he was transferred to St. Joseph in June 1974, where he remained until January 1981.

At that time, according to the report, Maguire asked to be released from the Catholic Diocese of Manchester so he could work with the Stimatine Fathers in a religious community in Waltham, Mass.

He was transferred to Ireland in May 1986.

In 1986, the statute of limitations regarding felonious sexual assault of a minor was six years, in 1999 it was changed to 22 years after a victim's 18th birthday.

As far as the Dover police are concerned, the case is dead unless new allegations arise that would fall under the new statute of limitations, Fenniman said.

(Union Leader Staff Reporter Katharine McQuaid and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Bishop John B. McCormack makes statement regarding Joseph Maguire

The Diocese of Manchester yesterday released the following statement from Bishop John B. McCormack regarding allegations of abuse by the Rev. Joseph T. Maguire.

May 17, 2002: Today I received a copy of the 1986 Dover police report regarding the investigation of Father Joseph T. Maguire concerning his sexually abusing minors. Fr. Maguire no longer resides in New Hampshire and has no permission to function as a priest. After reading this disturbing report, I reviewed our file on Father Maguire. The facts of this case make it clear that our response to allegations of abuse differs today. The terrible experience that children endured is difficult to accept and is painful to my heart. These crimes should not happen.

When Bishop Gendron received the report from the Dover police on Fr. Maguire in 1986, he told them that Fr. Maguire would not be assigned to ministry in the Diocese of Manchester again, and Fr. Maguire never has been. At the time of the Dover police investigation, Fr. Maguire had already left the diocese and was then residing in Ireland. Bishop Gendron informed the Bishop in Ireland of the report on Fr. Maguire from the Dover police.

When Fr. Maguire was already in his assignment in Dover, the Diocese received a report in 1975 from the Hudson Police Department. The resolve of this report was that Fr. Maguire was not to return to Hudson and that he receive psychiatric treatment.

If the Diocese were to receive such a report today, it would act immediately to take the priest out of active ministry while any investigations were being conducted, and the Diocese would cooperate fully with civil authorities, as did Bishop Gendron in both 1975 and 1986. If the allegations were to be proven credible, the priest would not serve in ministry anywhere again.

Retired Bishop Gendron, Auxiliary Bishop Christian and I are deeply saddened that one of our priests has harmed innocent children, and we pray that God will heal them.


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