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April 3, 2014

Priest makes another bid to dismiss child molestation case

IPSWICH — As his trial on child molestation charges nears, the former head of a religious order in Ipswich yesterday made another attempt to have the case against him dismissed.

The Rev. Richard McCormick, 73, who once ran the Salesian Brothers of Don Bosco retreat in Ipswich, is accused of raping two boys attending summer camp there back in the 1980s.

McCormick has already lost earlier bids to have the charges dismissed.

Last year, he and attorney Stephen Neyman argued that under the First Amendment’s right to freedom of religion, a law that allows the calculation of time for the statute of limitations to stop during periods when McCormick was out of state is unconstitutional. McCormick, as a member of a religious order, has no say when he is ordered to move to another state, they argued.

“Many religions and professions have a hierarchical structure requiring the employee to move from one state to another,” Judge Richard Welch III ruled in October when he denied that motion. “A Catholic priest stands in the same shoes as an Army captain, an IBM salesman or a Mormon elder.”

Yesterday, Neyman argued that the charges should be dismissed based on grand jury testimony that did not specifically state that McCormick raped the alleged victim in the first case.

During grand jury testimony, the first accuser, now a man in his 40s, testified about being told to sit on McCormick’s lap. He told the grand jury that it hurt.

That, Neyman suggested, was not evidence that the boy had been raped.

Prosecutor Kate MacDougall disagreed, citing findings in other cases that a statement that “it hurt” was enough for someone to infer that a rape occurred.

Judge John Lu said he will review the transcript of the testimony and rule soon.

A hearing has been scheduled for May 21 to schedule a trial, which would take place later this year.

McCormick is currently living at the Vlanney Renewal Center outside St. Louis, Mo., described as a “retreat” for accused and convicted pedophile priests.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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