Tuesday, May 28, 2024

An Episcopal priest, formerly of St. James Episcopal Church — the one near Teele Square, Somerville, not near Porter Square, Cambridge — has been arrested on assault to rape a child and indecent assault and battery on a child charges, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone and Somerville Police Chief Thomas Pasquarello said Friday afternoon.

The public is being asked for information adding to the investigation.

The Rev. Paul A. LaCharite, 65, of Boston, was arrested Friday on one count of assault to rape a child and three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child.

“We allege that this defendant, holding a trusted position within the Episcopal church, indecently assaulted and touched the victim over several years, only ending his 10-yearlong predatory abuse of the victim when the defendant left the church,” Leone said.

The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts is cooperating fully with the investigation, officials said, reminding the public that the charges are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Another Somerville priest — John E. McLaughlin of St. Benedict’s in East Somerville — was cleared of charges he sexually abused a child seven years ago, The Somerville Journal reported last month. The investigation and announcement was by The Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Boston, not police.

According to authorities, the accuser in this case and his family were longtime parishioners at St. James. In the 1990s, beginning when the victim was in elementary school, the defendant, a priest at the church, began inappropriately touching the victim in his office, they said. The defendant’s conduct is alleged to have progressed over a decade to include several indecent assault and batteries and assaults with the intent to rape a child, with the abuse finally ending when the victim was a teenager — and left St. James.

The victim came forward to authorities to reveal the defendant’s alleged abuse this week, Leone said. An investigation was conducted into the allegations and an arrest warrant for the defendant was issued.

The investigation is ongoing, officials said. Members of the public who believe they may have information that could be helpful to the investigation should call Somerville Police at (617) 625-1212, Ext. 7220, or the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office Child Abuse Unit at (781) 897-8400.

Update: On Sept. 10, 2012, Somerville District Court Judge Maurice Flynn ordered a $10,000 cash bail and said LaCharite must stay away from the victim’s home and work, have no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16, surrender his passport, report to probation as deemed appropriate by the Probation Department, not possess any firearms or dangerous weapons, refrain from excessive use of alcohol or narcotics without prescription, and abide by any restraining orders. Prosecutors had hoped for $25,000 cash bail, GPS monitoring and cooperation with any church disciplinary process.

LaCharite is due back in court Oct. 22 for a probable cause hearing.

This story took significant amounts of material from press releases.