Ex-Priest Admits to Fondling

Union Leader (Manchester NH)
February 27, 2004

DOVER (AP) — A former priest accused of raping three altar boys pleaded guilty yesterday to repeatedly fondling one of the teenagers in the early 1980s.

Joseph T. Maguire, 72, was charged with abusing the three boys at St. Joseph Church from 1977 to 1981.

He pleaded guilty to two out of 36 indictments. The pleas detail eight separate crimes. The remaining 34 indictments will be addressed at a bench trial Wednesday in Strafford County Superior Court.

The victim, now 35, was present during Maguire's plea. Assistant Attorney General William Delker detailed how Maguire gained the victim's trust and that of his family. Delker said the abuse progressed from innocent touching to molestation.

"The defendant had so much power to do good in the world, but it was that power that he used to wreak havoc in the world," Delker told Judge Peter Fauver.

Maguire became immensely popular in his parish and in other locations in New England. He held healing services and was part of a special order within the Catholic religion, the Stigmatines, having to do with healing. The victim's family joined Maguire's parish.

Fauver asked Maguire whether there was anything that would affect his reasoning and his plea, including the use of prescription drugs. Maguire told the court he took several medications each day for congestive heart failure and diabetes but didn't think that would affect his decision.

Maguire was arrested Feb. 25, 2003, at his Dennis, Mass., home and has been held on $50,000 cash bail since.

Dover police investigated Maguire in 1986 when, according to court records, he confessed to sexually abusing at least four boys since becoming a priest in 1973. At the time, police believed a six-year statute of limitations had expired and they dropped the case.

Maguire's alleged abuse again came to light last year during a statewide investigation into whether the Diocese of Manchester failed to protect children from predatory priests.


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