The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, July 13, 2009
Predator priest is sentenced; Sex abuse victims respond
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell)
We'd hoped for jail time, since that's the only proven way to stop a predator. We now hope that others who were hurt by this cunning child molester will call police and pursue charges, so Cote will be convicted again and get locked up.
He's a relatively young man, well-educated, well-spoken and savvy. We firmly believe he'll molest again. (Remember: he molested two very young Massachusetts boys very recently while he was on suspension for molesting a DC child years earlier.)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 21 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688), Mary Grant (626-419-2930), Mark Serrano (703-727-4940)
Judge to decide case of priest accused of abusing altar boy
Cote would be sentenced to probation under terms of plea agreement
by Melissa A. Chadwick | Staff Writer
A former youth pastor at Mother Seton Parish in Germantown has agreed to serve 10 years probation for charges that he sexually abused a teenage altar boy in 2001 and 2002, according to a plea agreement filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court last week.
The Rev. Aaron Joseph Cote, 57, was indicted on one charge of third-degree sex abuse last year. The plea agreement, which is scheduled before a judge today, states that Cote will plead not guilty to the charge and prosecutors will lay out the case in a statement of facts to the judge. The plea agreement states that prosecutors and the defense agree to ask the judge to order Cote to "undergo a full sex offender evaluation" and complete counseling.
As part of the agreement, the defense attorney and prosecutors will not ask for jail time, and request that Cote serve five years supervised probation and five years unsupervised probation.
Cote was accused of abusing Brandon Rains, now 22, when he was 14 and 15 years old, from 2001 to 2002 in Germantown. Rains, who had been an altar boy, reported the abuse, which he said also occurred in Washington, D.C., in 2003. His family grew dissatisfied with the lack of police action and filed a lawsuit against Cote and the religious order to which he belonged in 2005.
Although The Gazette rarely names alleged victims of sex crimes, Rains and his family went public with the case. Rains' stepfather, Joe McMorrow, would not comment on the case Friday.
The lawsuit, which was filed in D.C. Superior Court, was settled for $1.2 million in August 2007. Montgomery County Police charged Cote with one count of sexual abuse in July 2008.
Documents filed in the lawsuit indicate that the Dominican Order of Fathers and Brothers had records from church officials and parents suspicious of Cote's relationship with children and possible abuse. Those reports date to the 1980s, when Cote was a pastor in Ohio.
Cote and his attorney could not be reached for comment before today's hearing.
Cote also served at St. Jane Frances de Chantal Catholic Church in Bethesda in the late 1990s, prior to his Mother Seton assignment. He was an associate pastor and youth minister at Mother Seton from 1999 to 2002.
After Rains' allegations were made in 2003, the Dominican order sent Cote for psychological evaluation, conducted an investigation and cleared him of any wrongdoing, church officials have said.
Cote then was assigned a position as youth minister and associate pastor at a Providence, R.I., church. When Rains went public and filed the lawsuit, Cote was placed on administrative leave from the church, church officials have said.
In 2008, a Massachusetts couple filed a lawsuit against Cote and the Dominican Order alleging that he abused their two young sons. The attorney in that case, Jeff Anderson of St. Paul, Minn., said late Friday that the lawsuit is on hold while they "evaluate what is in the best interest of these children."
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests