Friday, February 11, 2011

Priest convicted

http://online.wsj.com/article/APa2af574d08cc493a8b8e95c2efa148b1.html
Ex-NY priest convicted in Mass. rapes from '80s .
Associated Press
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A New York man was convicted Thursday of raping two altar boys in western Massachusetts while he was serving as a Roman Catholic priest in the 1980s.

A Berkshire Superior Court jury found Gary Mercure guilty after deliberating for about two hours. He was convicted of three counts of forcible rape of a child and one count of indecent assault and battery of a child under 14.

Prosecutors alleged that Mercure, of Troy, N.Y., raped the boys in the Berkshires while he was a priest in the Diocese of Albany, N.Y.

Mercure denied the allegations, and his lawyers said the alleged victims were coached into making abuse claims.

Mercure, 62, did not show any emotion as the verdict was read. His lawyer, Michael Jennings, said he will appeal.

The two victims, now in their 30s, served as altar boys at Mercure's church in Queensbury, N.Y. They said Mercure took them on hiking and skiing trips to the Berkshires and raped them in separate incidents in 1986 and 1989.

The Diocese of Albany removed Mercure from ministry in 2008.

After the guilty verdict was read, Judge John Agostini revoked Mercure's bail and ordered him held at the Berkshire County House of Correction pending his sentencing on Feb. 16. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison.

The Albany Diocese released a statement after Mercure was convicted, calling his actions "sinful, criminal and reprehensible."

"Our hearts today are with the children who were abused, all now adults. We admire the strength and courage they demonstrated by coming forward," the diocese said in the statement.

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