Friday, January 21, 2011

Rape trial
Rape trial of former Queensbury priest set to start
StoryDiscussionRape trial of former Queensbury priest set to start
By DON LEHMAN The Post-Star | Posted: Thursday, January 20, 2011 4:05 pm | (0) Comments

Font Size:Default font sizeLarger font size.The former local priest accused of sexually abusing two boys in Massachusetts is to stand trial in Pittsfield, Mass., beginning later this month.

Gary Mercure faces three felony charges - two counts of rape of a child by force and one of indecent assault - for alleged incidents in the late 1980s with two Warren County boys under the age of 15 whom he took to western Massachusetts on church retreats.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Jan. 31, said Fred Lantz, spokesman for the Berkshire County District Attorney's Office.

Mercure, who lives in Troy, was indicted by a Massachusetts grand jury in 2008 based on an investigation that began in Warren County after alleged victims came forward to the Warren County District Attorney's Office.

District Attorney Kate Hogan concluded that allegations the men raised could not be prosecuted in New York because of statutes of limitations that require the prosecution of felonies within 5 years.

But Hogan referred the men to Berkshire County prosecutors after learning of alleged incidents there, because Massachusetts has statutes of limitation that are more favorable to prosecutors.

The charges against Mercure have withstood a motion to dismiss based on timeliness issues.

Mercure has pleaded not guilty and has been free, pending trial.

Mercure was a pastor at Our Lady of the Annunciation in Queensbury for about 12 years in the 1980s and 1990s, and at St. Mary's Church in Glens Falls afterward, until he resigned from St. Mary's in 1995, citing health reasons.

He later resumed the ministry at churches in Troy, until the diocese suspended him in January 2008 amid an investigation into child sexual abuse allegations. He was formally removed from the ministry in August 2008.

The Berkshire County District Attorney's Office has said it plans to call a number of witnesses from the Glens Falls area to testify during the trial.

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