More Victims Emerge in Dover Priest Case

Union Leader (Manchester NH)
April 5, 2003

DOVER (AP) — The trial of a priest accused of abusing two boys has been delayed after eight more accusers came forward to testify against him.

The Rev. Joseph Maguire is accused of molesting two altar boys at St. Joseph parish between 1977 and 1981. Prosecutors wanted his trial on 34 sexual assault charges to begin in July, but a judge delayed it until October after hearing about the new accusations.

The felony and misdemeanor charges against him carry combined penalties of 214 years in prison.

At a pre-trial conference Thursday, Deputy Strafford County Attorney Peter Odom said eight men are prepared to testify that Maguire, 71, sexually abused or solicited them more than two decades ago in Dover, Hudson and Somersworth.

Odom said the men want Maguire brought to justice as soon as possible, but defense lawyer Christopher Carter said he needs extra time to prepare.

"If there was such an urgency to accommodate the alleged victims in this case, I would ask why charges were brought 23 years after the alleged incidents occurred," he said.

Carter said he learned only Thursday morning that prosecutors were filing a legal motion to admit evidence from the eight men.

In asking for more time to prepare for trial, Carter said he also may challenge whether Maguire's case fits within the statute of limitations.

"This case requires a tremendous amount of time and attention," Carter told the court.

Dover police investigated Maguire in 1986, when according to court records, he confessed to sexually abusing at least four young boys since his ordination. At the time, police believed the six-year statute of limitations had expired and they dropped the case after consulting with the state attorney general's office.

But Maguire's case resurfaced during last year's statewide criminal investigation to determine if the Diocese of Manchester failed to protect children from dangerous priests.

Maguire was among priests referred for psychiatric treatment and then allowed to continue serving in parishes where they abused additional victims. At some point, the diocese suspended his permission for ministry.

Prosecutors determined they could charge Maguire because he was "continually absent" from the state since 1981, freezing the statute of limitations under New Hampshire law.

Maguire was charged secretly by a Strafford County grand jury in February and arrested at his apartment in Dennis, Mass, where police seized computer equipment and photographs.

While authorities will not say what evidence they found, court documents reveal they were looking for pictures of naked children.

Carter said he will seek to get Maguire released on bail. Since his arrest on Feb. 25, Maguire has been jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Maguire's next court appearance is scheduled for June 11.


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