|N.H. Says It
Can't Prosecute Mass. Bishop
Wed,. November 10, 2004
By ADAM GORLICK, Associated Press Writer
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - New Hampshire authorities said Wednesday
they cannot prosecute former Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre
on charges he abused two teens in the 1970s because it wasn't
a crime at the time to have sex with youths their age.
Will Delker, New Hampshire's senior assistant attorney general,
said the state did not prohibit adults from having sex with
16- and 17-year-olds until 1986.
Dupre, 70, the first Roman Catholic bishop to face sexual
abuse charges, was accused of having oral sex with two Massachusetts
boys during a trip to New Hampshire when they were 16 or 17.
Saying the statute of limitations had expired, officials
in Massachusetts have also declined to prosecute Dupre over
allegations he abused the same boys in that state in the 1970s.
Hampden County, Mass., District Attorney William Bennett
had said in September he would turn over the results of a
grand jury investigation to federal officials and authorities
in New Hampshire, New York and Canada. The two men who alleged
they were abused in Massachusetts and New Hampshire also say
they were abused in the other two locations.
New York and federal authorities said they are still reviewing
the case, but expressed concern they may be hamstrung by statutes
of limitations similar to those that prevented Bennett from
Bennett, who did not immediately return a telephone call
seeking comment, has said that Canada does not have a statute
of limitations. Canadian authorities said they are still reviewing
Dupre also faces lawsuits filed against him by the accusers.
Michael Jennings, Dupre's lawyer, said he was relieved "that
those who would seek to prosecute the bishop are learning
that either no crimes were committed or that so much time
has passed that the law says it's unfair to now make someone
Dupre resigned in February after nine years as head of the
Springfield Diocese. He cited health concerns, but his departure
came one day after The Republican newspaper of Springfield
confronted him with allegations he abused the boys while he
was a parish priest during the 1970s.
After he stepped down, Dupre went to the St. Luke Institute,
a private psychiatric hospital in Maryland where the Boston
Archdiocese sent many of its priests for mental health treatment
after sexual abuse allegations were levied against them.
Dupre's current whereabouts were not immediately known, and
Jennings would not say where the bishop is.
The Springfield Diocese, which includes more than 260,000
Roman Catholics in western Massachusetts, has reached a $7
million settlement with 46 people who say they were abused