April 05, 2005

Ex-priest indicted on rape charges

Boston Globe

By David Abel, Globe Staff | April 5, 2005

A former Massachusetts priest, who has served three years in prison for sexually abusing a child in New Hampshire, was indicted yesterday by a Suffolk grand jury in the alleged rape or sexual assault of five boys under age 10 beginning in the 1980s, prosecutors said.

Robert Burns, 56, who served as a priest at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Jamaica Plain and Charlestown's St. Mary's Parish, now lives in Concord, N.H., and is expected to be arraigned today in Suffolk Superior Court on six counts of rape of a child under 16 and seven counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said during a press conference at his office yesterday.

''The defendant's conduct is repugnant," Conley said. ''These youngsters at a tender age placed their trust in him, and he violated that trust. It took many years for them to come forward."

Burns could not be reached last night, and his lawyer in Boston did not return calls.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, which has been racked in recent years by charges of abuse by priests, apparently first learned in 1991 of the allegations, which range from fondling to rape and occurred in places including church property and Burns's car, Conley said.

The abuse allegedly occurred from the early 1980s through the early 1990s. After family members of the alleged victims approached church officials in 1991, the archdiocese dismissed Burns from his position as a priest, Conley said. Several of the alleged victims had served as altar boys.

Posted by kshaw at April 5, 2005 08:45 AM