Priest defrocked over sex abuse allegation

Catholic diocese finds grounds to support charge of misconduct against the Rev. Gary Mercure

Section: Capital Region,  Page: B7

Date: Saturday, August 16, 2008

ALBANY - Officials of the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese have defrocked a priest accused of sexually abusing boys in the mid-1980s.

The Rev. Gary Mercure, 60, was suspended from the ministry in January, when he was serving at the Sacred Heart and St. William parishes in Troy. The permanent removal - which will be announced to parishioners in Troy, Albany, Latham, Clinton Heights, Glens Falls and Queensbury at Masses this weekend - is a sign that a diocesan review committee found "reasonable grounds" to support an allegation of abuse, said the Rev. Kenneth Doyle. The diocese investigated an incident relating to "misconduct with a minor" at St. Teresa of Avila parish in Albany in the mid-1980s, Doyle said.

Mercure was ordained in 1975 and has served as a priest at St. Mary's in Clinton Heights, St. Mary's in Glens Falls, Our Lady of Annunciation in Queensbury and Our Lady of the Assumption in Latham.

Mark Lyman, the Capital Region director of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, said he is in contact with 13 people who say they were abused by Mercure. After Mercure was suspended in January, Lyman led a news conference where several alleged victims spoke out.

"I'm pleased to hear that he's been defrocked," Lyman said. "It's certainly something that's long overdue. We're aware of a significant number of victims of this predator, and I think that defrocking him is probably the first in a series of punitive actions that will be taken against this man."

Defrocking means that Mercure is prohibited from functioning publicly as a Catholic priest.

The determination is not a criminal finding, though Doyle said that all allegations against Mercure have been turned over to law enforcement agencies.