on trial

Ex-Priest Gary Mercure Accused of Raping 2 Altar Boys On Appalachian Trail

Today will be the first full day of jury deliberations in a Massachusetts court for the Rev. Gary Mercure, the priest — since removed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany — accused of raping two boys in separate incidents during trips to the Berkshires in 1986 and 1989. The boys, now in their 30s, served as Mercure’s altar boys. While Mercure is suspected of other sexual assaults, prosecutors in New York determined the statute of limitations had expires, so the two victims have used the alleged incidents in the Massachusetts mountains along the Appalachian Trail to help prosecutors there launch their case — something Mercure’s defense attorney has tried shaming them for. (“Did they have the opportunity to fabricate this? Oh yes, they did.”)

In the case of the alleged 1989 victim, who claims Mercure raped him in the parking lot of the former Brodie Ski Area in New Ashford, Jennings reminded the jury that nobody other than the man himself had any knowledge of that trip to the Berkshires. “He chose an activity that he’s familiar with – skiing,” Jennings said.

The alleged victim claimed he would stuff pairs of bloodied underwear inside a wall at his Queensbury home after being raped by Mercure, but Jennings said the garments contained no DNA from the priest. One sample contained a partial DNA profile of the alleged victim’s father, however, although the source of that sample was not semen.

[…] The boys’ devoutly Catholic families trusted the priest, whose public demeanor “never aroused any suspicion,” Caccaviello said. The priest capitalized on that trust to take advantage of the boys, operating freely and “without any fear of reprisal,” Caccaviello said.

The prosecutor said the priest alternately told the altar boys that they were to blame for the abuse, and that nobody would believe them if they came forward. Caccaviello said Mercure told one abuse victim his parents would be devastated and their marriage would end if they found out, while another altar boy was told people would think the boy was “gay.”

Jury deliberations were delayed yesterday when one juror sent out a tweet (“I am in contempt of court, de facto if not de jure”), which he says had nothing to do with the case.

[Post Star]