Convicted Ex-Priest Sentenced to 25 Years
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Gary Mercure, 62, was sentenced on Wednesday afternoon in Berkshire Superior Court to up to 25 years in prison for sexual assaults against two boys two decades ago.
Mercure, a former priest in Troy, N.Y., was found guilty Feb. 10 of three counts of rape of a child with force and a a single count of indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14.
The charges relate to assualts on two men, who are now ages 35 and 34, that occurred in Berkshire County. A Berkshire Superior Court jury deliberated for two hours before returning guilty verdicts.
Judge John A. Agostini ordered Mercure to serve concurrent 20-to-25-year sentences on the rape charges at the Massachusetts Correctional Facility at Cedar Junction. He was given a concurrent 3-to-5-year prison sentence on the assault and battery conviction.
By: Staff Reports On: 03:34PM / Thursday, February 10, 2011
Former New York Priest Guilty of Abuse
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A former Catholic priest was found guilty on Thursday morning in Berkshire Superior Court of sexual assault charges dating back more than 20 years.
The jury deliberated for two hours over two days before returning its verdict against Gary Mercure, 62, of Troy, N.Y.
Mercure was found guilty on two counts of rape of a child with force and one count of indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14 in connection with an incident involving a man who is now 35 years of age. The incidents occurred in Great Barrington or Monterey between Sept. 1, 1986, and Dec. 31, 1986.
He also waso found guilty of one count of rape of a child with force in connection with an incident involving a man who is now 34 years of age.
That incident occurred in New Ashford between Feb. 1, 1989, and Feb. 28, 1989.
The victims said the abuse began with they were altar boys in Mercure's church in Queensbury, N.Y. Both said they were taken to the Berkshires and assualted; one at a parking area off the Appalachian Trail and the other in the parking lot of the former Brodie Mountain Ski Area.
Mercure was suspended from his church in 2008 and later defrocked after allegations arose of abuse of altar boys in the 1980s. Two men came forward claiming the abuse had occurred on trips to Massachusetts and Vermont as well as in New York. The statute of limitations had lapsed in New York State for both criminal and civil suits, leading prosecutors to reach out to their Massachusetts counterparts.
Mercure's attorney, Michael O. Jennings, argued physical evidence and scientific evidence was lacking and that the allegations of assaults in the Berkshires were fabricated to allow proceedings in Massachusetts.
Jurors, however, believed Berkshire First Assistant District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello's description of a sexual predator who knew no state boundaries.
Judge John Agostini ordered that Mercure be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without bail pending sentencing which will occur on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m.
The investigation was conducted by state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office.
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Pittsfield Couple Sues Hotel After Son Chokes On Condom
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The court will hear the case of a Pittsfield couple who is suing Hilton Hotels after her 2-year-old son choked on a used condom left by a prior guest, the Philadelphia Daily News reported on Friday.
A U.S. district justice cited "unique circumstances" that will have a jury determine if Amy Wolfe suffered emotional distress following the incident. Wolfe claims that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and sees a psychiatrist, the paper reported.
According to reports at the time, Wolfe and her husband Steven were staying at Homewood Suites, owned by Hilton Hotels, in New Jersey last Jan. 2 when the 2-year-old found and began chewing on a used condom. He then began choking on it and ingested "the contents."
Wolfe was tending to another child in the bathroom when she heard the youngest of three, Ryan, choking. She ran in and removed it from his throat.
The child did not contract a sexually transmitted disease or any other illness but Wolfe claims developmental delays are a result of the trauma.
Attorneys for the hotel claim that she can not claim that because the child did not suffer serious physical injury or death, a claim that has succeeded in dismissing similar cases.
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Winter Blanket Burns Pittsfield Apartment
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Kincaid Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Rape
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It's taken almost exactly a dozen years, two trials and numerous twists and turns through the court system to conclude the prosecution of Aaron Kincaid of Lenox.
Kincaid, 36, pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Monday morning to four counts of aggravated rape from an assault on a then 27-year-old woman on Sept. 24, 1998.
He was ordered by Judge John Agostini to serve concurrent 719-day sentences, or time already served, on the four charges at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute at Cedar Junction on the recommendation of the district attorney and his attorney. He was also placed on two years' probation on the condition he have no contact with the victim and a witness during the probationary period.
"We do not always achieve all that we aspire to in every case," said District Attorney David F. Capeless in a statement. "Today's sentence is not what was handed down back in 2001, but we have realized something else, something even more significant in this singular case – a vindication of the victim and the other witnesses after all these years, an affirmation under oath that they had, indeed, told the truth."
Kincaid was guilty of the same four charges in Superior Court in September 2001 and was ordered by Judge Thomas Curley to serve concurrent 15- to 18-year sentences in Walpole.
In May 2002, Kincaid filed a motion for a new trial and a post-verdict inquiry of the jurors. He alleged that the jury learned that a co-defendant, Richard C. Lampron Jr., had fled the state. Curley, who died in 2005, interviewed all the jurors and ordered a new trial for Kincaid.
The district attorney's office appealed the ruling and the Appeals Court agreed with the prosecution that any information about Lampron's flight came from juror speculation and not from some outside sources and that the evidence at trial permitted the jurors to infer that Lampron had fled. The court also ruled that the overwhelming evidence of Kincaid's guilt outweighed any influence that this information may have had upon the jury.
The Supreme Judicial Court granted further appellate review of the Appeals Court's decision and affirmed Curley's order allowing a new trial for Kincaid. His second trial in December 2006 before Agostini resulted in a mistrial after the jury failed to deliver a verdict. Kincaid subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the indictments on double jeopardy grounds in the Superior Court. Agostini denied the motion and the Appeals Court affirmed the Superior Court's order.
Lampron was captured in Pennsylvania in 2002 and subsequently charged; he was sentenced to seven to 10 years in 2005, which he is serving concurrently with a similar sentence for his conviction on another rape in 1999. A third man, William E. Jansen of Pittsfield, was charged in October 2005. He was prosecuted along with Kincaid in the trial that ended with a hung jury. Both he and Kincaid attempted to have the charges dismissed but an Appeals Court last December upheld the indictments.
The three men were sharing an apartment in Lee when Jansen allegedly videotaped a masked Lampron and Kincaid have sex with the woman. The tape never surfaced but witnesses who saw it say the woman appeared to have been incapacitated.
Capeless, who as first assistant district attorney was the prosecuter at Kincaid's first trial, had high praise for the victim and the police investigators who have made numerous court appearances since 2000.
"I have made every effort during the past 10 years to ensure that these horrible crimes were fully investigated and vigorously prosecuted, and that the convictions obtained were forcefully defended," he said. "I am gratified that our work and the decision of the first jury has finally been vindicated. The convictions in this case came about only as the result of a dogged, professional investigation by State Police Trooper Brian Berkel, the stoic persistence of the victim in seeing the case through, the commendable actions of the other witnesses in coming forward with their information, and the support and compassion shown to these persons by victim assistance advocate Mary Shogry. I am particularly pleased for all of them."
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Pittsfield Police Identify Parking Garage Death
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are investigating the death of a 39-year-old city man.
Police say the body of Adelino A. Cerveira of 150 Wahconah St. was discovered by a Berkshire Medical Center employee about 6 a.m. Sunday outside on the ground near the Charles Street parking garage. Investigators believe Cerveira fell from the second floor of the parking deck, the older of the hospital's two multidecker parking garages.
An autopsy was conducted Monday at BMC by Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Abbott. Preliminary results indicate that Cerveira died of multiple traumatic injuries.
The investigation is continuing, but investigators do not suspect foul play. A statement from the district attorney's office did not indicate whether police believe Cerveira fell or jumped. The Berkshire Eagle reported that a man jumped from a BMC parking deck in 2006.
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