Ex-Somerville Priest Accused of Molesting Child Pleaded Not Guilty Monday
The priest also worked at Old North Church in Boston. The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts has assigned pastoral response teams to help parishioners deal with the news of the allegations, according to a church official.
A "pastoral response team" met with parishioners at Saint James Episcopal Church in Somerville Sunday to help the congregation confront news that one of the church's former priests was arrested and accused of sexually assaulting a child there in the 1990s and 2000s, according to Tracy Sukraw, communications director for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.
Paul A. LaCharite, 65, of Boston, was arrested Friday and arraigned Monday in Somerville District Court on charges of assault to rape a child and indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14, according to the Middlesex District Attorney's office.
According to the district attorney's office, LaCharite is accused of sexually assaulting a young member of the congregation, who's now an adult, over the course of about a decade beginning in the 1990s.
LaCharite served as priest of Saint James, in Teele Square, from 1989 to 2005, according to Sukraw. He retired from active ministry in 2005 but in recent years served as a priest associate in the famous Old North Church in Boston's North End. Priest associates play a limited role in the congregations and do things like help out with services, Sukraw said.
According to a police arrest log from the Somerville Police Department, LaCharite lived at 25 Revere St., in Boston's Beacon Hill.
LaCharite was ordained as an Anglican priest in Ottawa, Canada, in 1975, and he was received by the U.S. Episcopal Church in 1988, Sukraw said. She said Anglican authorities in Ottawa were aware of his arrest.
Episcopal diocese responds
A pastoral response team also met with members of the Old North Church congregation Sunday, according to Sukraw, who said the teams help parishioners deal with a "complex range of emotions and questions" that can arise when confronted with this sort of news.
The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts issued a statement Friday saying, "The diocese faces this situation with real sorrow and concern, and remains committed to making congregations safe through transparency, diligence, care for victims and due process."
According to the statement and Sukraw, the diocese has initiated a disciplinary process and is cooperating fully with investigators.
"We take these matters very seriously," said Sukraw. She also said the diocese has "a real commitment to transparency and due process" in this case.
Somerville Patch Monday called, knocked on the door and left a phone message at Saint James Episcopal Church but had not heard back at the time of this posting.
Alleged abuse from mid 1990s to mid 2000s
According to an announcement from the Middlesex County District Attorney's office, the victim and his family were longtime parishioners at Saint James, and in the 1990s, when the victim was in elementary school, LaCharite began "inappropriately touching the victim in his office."
The announcement goes on to say, "The defendant's conduct is alleged to have progressed over a ten year period to include several indecent assault and batteries and assaults with the intent to rape a child, with the abuse finally ceasing when the victim was a teenager due to the defendant leaving St. James."
"The victim came forward to authorities to reveal the defendant's alleged long-time abuse of him last week," the announcement says, referring to the first full week of September.
The alleged victim is now 26 years old and married, with a 2-year-old daughter, according to Boston.com.
$10,000 cash bail
At LaCharite's arraignment Monday, Somerville District Court Judge Maurice Flynn ordered LaCharite held on $10,000 cash bail, and he was ordered to stay away from the victim's home and work, to have no unsupervised contact with children under 16, to surrender his passport, to report to probation, not to possess firearms or dangerous weapons and to refrain from excessive use of alcohol or narcotics, according to the district attorney's office.
His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 22 for a probable cause hearing.
According to the district attorney's office, the investigation is ongoing and anyone with information should call Somerville police at (617) 625-1212, extension 7220 or the district attorney's office at (781) 897-8400.