A former Roman Catholic priest who served in several Capital Region parishes was sentenced Wednesday to 20-25 years in a Massachusetts prison and could also be defrocked by the Vatican.
Gary Mercure, 62, of Troy, was sentenced by Berkshire Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini, who called the former priest a “common thug.”
A jury convicted Mercure Feb. 10 on three counts of raping a child with force and one count of indecent assault and battery of a child. Mercure raped two altar boys, who are now in the 30s, during trips to Massachusetts in 1986 and 1989.
The men testified against Mercure during his trial, which lasted a week. In all, five former altar boys testified to dozens of assaults by Mercure.
Mercure was associate pastor at Our Lady of Annunciation in Queensbury between 1982-1991. He also served as pastor at Our Lady of Assumption in Latham; at St. Mary’s in Clinton Heights; at St. Mary’s in Glens Falls and at St. Teresa of Avila in Albany.
He was an associate pastor and a pastor at Sacred Heart and St. Williams in Troy from 2000 until his removal by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany in 2008, following an investigation into a complaint that alleged Mercure had sexually abused minors. The diocese’s action at the time permanently removed Mercure from all ministry in the church and forbade him from presenting himself as a priest in any way whatsoever.
Prosecutors sought a prison term of 30 to 40 years. Mercure’s attorney, Michael O. Jennings, sought an eight-year sentence. Jennings said he will appeal the conviction.
Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan investigated allegations against Mercure in 2008. She could not obtain an indictment against him because the statute of limitations had expired for the alleged crimes. Hogan then turned over information to authorities in Massachusetts, where the statute of limitations is longer.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany on Wednesday issued a statement from Bishop Howard Hubbard. In it, Hubbard said he will ask the Vatican, through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to defrock Mercure.
“While I, as bishop of the Diocese of Albany, have the authority to remove a priest from all ministry and to forbid him from presenting himself as a priest, which I have already done, only the Vatican has the authority to dismiss a priest from the clerical state,” Hubbard said in the statement.
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Categories: Schenectady County