Monday, January 6, 2003

Lawyer says former bishop destroyed evidence

Former New Hampshire Bishop Odore Gendron destroyed church records during the 1980s that detailed sexual abuse of children by two Roman Catholic priests, according to court records.

The records indicate Gendron, who was bishop of the Diocese of Manchester from 1975 to 1990, destroyed documents in one case at the request of the accused priest and in the other at the request of a facility treating a priest for sexual misconduct.

Mark Abramson, lawyer for about 60 people suing the diocese over alleged sexual misconduct by priests, said in a motion filed late last week in Hillsborough County Superior Cout that the destruction of the records amounts to fraudulent concealment.

Evidence of the destruction is contained in letters Gendron wrote in 1986 and 1989, the motion said.

In the first letter, Gendron assured the Rev. Philip Petit that he would ''certainly destroy all documents, notes, etc., referring to your treatment'' for sexual misconduct.

The letter went on to say Gendron had kept one letter from Petit's file that included a doctor's report saying the priest was making progress and that a sexual incident in Dover was isolated.

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