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N.H. Diocese Acknowledges Abuse

May 28, 2002

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ The Diocese of Manchester acknowledged it knew of a previous allegation of sexual abuse against a priest, now deceased, who once served as the director of a Roman Catholic summer camp for children.

Church officials conceded over the weekend they received an allegation against the Rev. Karl Dowd in February from a man who claimed he was molested in 1971 when he was 16-year-old altar boy at a church in Keene.

On Saturday, The Associated Press reported a different man alleged that he was molested by Dowd at Camp Fatima in 1972, when he was 9. Diocese spokesman Patrick McGee had told the AP he knew of no previous allegations against Dowd.

The alleged 1971 victim, a lawyer in another state who asked not to be identified, became angry when he read the church’s denial and called the diocese, the Concord Monitor reported.

The man said a diocesan official, the Rev. Edward Arsenault, called him to apologize.

McGee said Tuesday that he had thought the AP interview focused soley on Camp Fatima.

The man told the newspaper he and his mother had immediately reported Dowd to the pastor of St. Bernard’s Church in Keene after the 1971 incident, and that Dowd was appointed director of Camp Fatima shortly afterward.

From then on until he retired in 1990, Dowd served as director of the camp, which plays host to hundreds of boys 6 to 15 each year.

``To say that we were shocked (at the camp appointment) is necessarily an understatement,″ the man said. ``It’s the ultimate example of putting the fox in the chicken coop.″

The man said he called the diocese in February, after the church released a list of 14 priests accused of sexual abuse, but excluded Dowd. Church officials said they did not include dead priests because there was no longer any safety issue involved.

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