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Ex-N.H. Bishop Said To Destroy Records

Jan 7, 2003 | AP Former Bishop Odore Gendron destroyed church records in the 1980s that detailed sexual abuse of children by two Roman Catholic priests, court records show.

The records indicate that Gendron, who was bishop of the Diocese of Manchester from 1975 to 1990, destroyed documents once at the request of an accused priest and again at the request of a facility treating another priest for abuse.

Patrick McGee, spokesman for the diocese, said Gendron did destroy the documents in question because they were private medical records and were made available to the diocese on the condition that they be destroyed.

McGee said the intent never was to cover up allegations of abuse.

''If the intent were to destroy any record of that [treatment], then that letter itself [from Gendron to the treatment center] would not be in there,'' he said.

McGee said he did not know how to reach Gendron, who is retired, and said he did not know whether he was still in New Hampshire.

Mark Abramson, a lawyer for more than 60 people suing the diocese over alleged abuse by priests, said in a motion filed Jan. 2 in Hillsborough County Superior Court that the destruction of the records amounts to fraudulent concealment.

''In fact, the church went to devious lengths to hide its enormous, complicit responsibility'' in the sexual abuse of children, Abramson wrote.

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