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Case of Priest Accused of Raping Altar Boy Goes To Jury In New Hampshire

Apr 21, 2003 | AP

Jurors began deliberations Monday in the case of a Roman Catholic priest charged with raping a teenage altar boy in 1985.

The Rev. George Robichaud, 58, admitted having inappropriate sexual contact with the altar boy, now a 33-year-old state trooper, but he denies raping him.

Defense attorney Peter Callaghan said the trooper at different times said he was 14, 15 or 16 legally old enough to consent to sex when he was allegedly assaulted at the priest's lake cottage.

"Credibility is a big issue in this case," Callaghan said. "His statements are all over the place."

Robichaud faces 7½ to 15 years in prison if convicted. He is the first priest to face criminal charges in New Hampshire since the church abuse scandal erupted 18 months ago.

The trooper, who had family problems as a child, testified that Robichaud befriended him in 1984 when the priest was pastor of St. Anthony's and St. Stephen's churches in Swanzey.

In the spring of 1985, Robichaud took the boy to his cottage on Lake Winnisquam, fondled him and had sex with him briefly, the trooper testified.

Last year, the trooper wore a hidden recording device and confronted Robichaud. The priest said he was drinking at the time and meant no harm when he "played affectionately" with the boy at the cottage.

Robichaud is on leave as a pastor at two churches in Wolfeboro pending the outcome of the trial.

The jury deliberated for about an hour and a half before recessing until Tuesday.

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