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Former Waltham Priest Charged With Raping Boy

Aug 29, 2002 | The Boston Herald

A Boston archdiocese priest removed from active ministry for most of the past decade was arraigned yesterday on four counts of child rape against an altar boy at a Waltham parish in the 1980s.

The Rev. Robert V. Gale, 61, who was arrested at his Middleton, N.H., home Tuesday, pleaded not guilty in Middlesex Court to charges he raped the youth in his quarters at St. Jude Parish from 1980 to 1984, when the boy was between the ages of 10 and 14.

Clerk Magistrate Lucie Pasquale released Gale on his own recognizance, with the conditions that he surrender his passport, report to authorities twice weekly and stay away from children and the alleged victim.

``You will have absolutely no unsupervised contact with any child under the age of 16. . . . Do you understand that?'' Pasquale said to Gale, who nodded his agreement.

Told by Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall that Gale, whom the archdiocese has banned from performing public ministry, was celebrating public Mass at his home, Pasquale prohibited that activity as well.

``You will not perform any ministerial duty that involves interaction with the public,'' she said. ``You are to have no religious services at your home.''

Though defense attorney Arthur Tourkantonis agreed to the restriction - stating, ``Any condition is better than jail'' - legal observers noted it could touch on church-and-state issues.

``Unconstitutional,'' said J. Albert Johnson, a defense attorney not involved in the case. ``The Supreme Judicial Court decided unanimously that the U.S. Constitution forbids the civil courts from entering any order governing the conduct of religious persons within their various communities.''

The case could hinge on the statute of limitations, which was reached 15 years after the alleged victim's 16th birthday - or last year, when the man turned 31. Yet a grand jury found the case prosecutable because the statute freezes when the defendant leaves the state.

But Tourkantonis indicated he could show Gale had only recently moved to New Hampshire. ``Right off the bat it seems to me there's a problem with the statute of limitations,'' he said. ``He's lived in New Hampshire for two months. He moved there on June 21 of 2002.''

Though Gale has not worked in ministry in years, he served as a part-time alcoholism counselor at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Brighton from 1996 to 2000, a hospital spokesman said.

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