Ex-Priest Faces 34 Charges of Sexual Assault in Dover

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
February 26, 2003

A former Catholic priest was arrested at his Cape Cod home yesterday on 34 charges of sexually assaulting two boys from 1977 to 1981 while he served in a Dover parish.

The Rev. Joseph T. Maguire, 71, was arrested by Massachusetts State Police in Dennis, Mass., on a fugitive warrant after a Strafford County grand jury returned the secret indictments against him Thursday, Deputy Strafford County Attorney Peter K. Odom said.

He is being held without bail pending a March 11 bail review hearing in Orleans (Mass.) District Court.

Maguire is accused of engaging in anal rape, oral sex, fondling and other sexual contact, authorities said.

The boys, identified only by their initials in the indictments, were 9 and 10 years old when the alleged abuses began in 1977.

Maguire was assigned to St. Joseph Parish in Dover from 1974 to 1981. He had previously served in parishes in Hudson, Somersworth and Whitefield.

The indictments charge Maguire with three counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, 23 counts of felonious sexual assault and eight misdemeanor counts of sexual assault.

Aggravated felonious sexual assault is a Class A felony carrying a maximum penalty of 7� to 15 years in state prison. Felonious sexual assault is a Class B felony with a maximum penalty of 3� to seven years in state prison.

In 1986, Dover police investigated reports that Maguire had been molesting boys. Maguire reportedly admitted to Dover police he sexually assaulted four St. Joseph Parish altar boys during the late 1970s, mostly in the church rectory.

Maguire also reportedly told police he had previously molested a boy while serving at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Hudson in the 1970s but the matter was handled internally by Bishop Odore Gendron.

Dover police last May said they investigated the allegations, but never filed charges because the statute of limitations had run out.

When Gendron received the Dover police report on Maguire in 1986, he told police Maguire would never be assigned to ministry again, Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack said in a statement last May.

At that time, Maguire already had left the diocese and was living in Ireland, he said. Gendron had informed the bishop in Ireland of the police report on Maguire, McCormack said.

McCormack confirmed the diocese received a report on Maguire in 1975 from Hudson police. At that time, Gendron decided to send Maguire for psychiatric treatment, McCormack said.

Maguire, who was ordained a priest Feb. 10, 1973, has not been assigned to ministry in the diocese since January 1981 and had his faculties to minister as a priest withdrawn in September 1994, diocesan spokesman Patrick McGee said.

The indictments against Maguire are the result of an investigation that began last summer, Odom said.

Authorities were able to bring criminal charges against Maguire because the clock on the statute of limitations had stopped running -- or tolled -- when Maguire left the state in 1981, Odom said.

"This is a situation where indictments are possible because Father Maguire was continuously absent from the jurisdiction from 1981 on," he explained.

Maguire was arraigned on a fugitive-from-justice charge in Orleans District Court yesterday morning. It could not immediately be determined how he pleaded.


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