Abuse Records Destroyed by Ex-N.H. Bishop

Jan 09, 2003 10:52 PM EST

According to court records, former bishop of New Hampshire , Odore Gendron, destroyed church records in the late 1980's that detailed sexual abuse of children by two Roman Catholic priests.

The records indicate that Odore Gendron destroyed records in one instance on request from an accused priest and in another by a facility treating a priest for sexual misconduct.

Evidence of the destruction of these records was found in letters written by Gendron.

In 1986, Gendron assured the Rev. Philip Petit in a letter that he would "certainly destroy all documents, notes, etc., referring to your treatment" for sexual misconduct.

In another letter written in 1989, Gendron conceded to a request by a New Mexico treatment center for priests that an evaluation of the Rev. Gordon MacRae be destroyed.

A motion was filed last week by Lawyer Mark Abramson, who represents about 60 people alleging sexual misconduct by priests. In response to the diocese's request to dismiss his lawsuits, the motion argued that the destruction of records amounts to fraudulent concealment and suspends the statute of limitations. A judge has yet to rule on the matter.

Patrick McGee, spokesman for the diocese, said church officials had not seen the motion and could not comment. He said he did not know how to reach Gendron, who is retired.

By Mike Moon