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Former priest pleads not guilty to Boston sexual assault charges

Prosecutors said the chaplain worked at a Rhode Island boarding school but took the victim on trips to Boston.

A former associate Episcopal priest is accused of sexually abusing a boy 43 years Wikimedia Commons

Aformer associate chaplain at a Rhode Island boarding school pleaded not guilty Tuesdayto charges that he sexually assaulted a student in his care during two trips to Boston more than 40 years ago,

Howard "Howdy" White Jr., 75, of Bedford, Pennsylvania, was indicted last monthon five counts of assault and battery of a boyduring twotrips to Boston in1973when the victim was 15 years old, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said. He was not charged with the indecent assault and battery statute, Conley said, because it did not exist at the time of the alleged assaults.

White served as an associate Episcopal chaplain at St. George's School in Middletown, Rhode Island, and befriended the boy, who was a student at the school. He would take the boy out to dinner and help him with his studies, Assistant District Attorney Audrey Mark told the court.

He also allegedly took the boy on overnight trips, including to Boston, where they stayed at a hotel and White assaulted him, prosecutors say.

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In his sophomore year, prosecutors say, the victim confronted White about the abuse and told him it had to stop. White responded, “If you try to stop, I’ll make your life difficult,” prosecutors said.

The victim reported the abuse to school faculty in 1974, and White allegedly admitted to a faculty member that he had sexually assaulted the boy.

The school made headlines earlier this yearafter a Boston Globe Spotlight report on the pervasiveness of sexual assaults on the school's 370-student campus during the 1970s and 1980s, calling the school a "cauldron of sexual exploitation of students."

A report found that 51students were abused by employees of St. George's Schooland at least 10 others by fellow students. In many cases the school covered up allegations of misconduct, allowing abuse to continue for decades, the report found.

In August, the school reached a settlement for an undisclosed amountwith 29 students who sued the school for not doing more to protect them.

The seven-monthinvestigation found seven former employees and one current employee were involved in the abuse, but yielded no charges in Rhode Island because of the state'sstatute of limitations on abuse charges.

The statute of limitations does not bar prosecutors from trying the case in Boston because White has never been “usually and publicly a resident within the commonwealth,” as required by that statute.

“Whether as a child or as an adult, disclosing sexual abuse can be the most daunting experience in a person’s life,” Conley said. “Survivors everywhere should know that they can feel safe and supported coming to us, and that we place their well-being above all else as we investigate and prosecute the harm committed against them.”

White goes to trialJune 26, 2017.

 
 
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