Parishioners were ‘stunned’ by news of priest’s arrest, spokesman says
Catholic officials in Boise said Tuesday that they had never received complaints of sexual misconduct by the Rev. W. Thomas Faucher prior to his arrest Friday on child pornography and drug charges.
In a midafternoon news release from the Diocese of Boise, Bishop Peter F. Christensen said the allegations against Faucher, if true, “are a betrayal of the trust we place in all ministers.”
Prosecutors say hundreds of images of child pornography and drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy and LSD were found in the retired priest’s home. Some of the images allegedly involved infants and toddlers. And Faucher, 72, allegedly wrote in an online chatroom that he “desires to rape and kill children,” Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Cathy Guzman said during a probable cause hearing Monday.
Faucher is no longer in the Ada County jail, having posted a $250,000 bond Tuesday evening. A judge forbade him Monday from having any contact with children, and from using the internet while his case progresses.
Faucher, (pronounced foh-SHAY), is charged with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a child, two counts of distributing sexually exploitative material involving children and two counts of drug possession. All of the charges are felonies except for the drug counts. If convicted, he faces a lifetime in prison.
“When I first heard of these allegations, I was absolutely stunned,” Christensen said in the Tuesday news release. “… Anyone who takes advantage of and exploits children for their own gratification is absolutely wrong. There are no excuses for such behavior by any one of our clergy.”
Church officials previously said that they would cooperate with the investigation into Faucher and that he would not be allowed to minister within the Diocese of Boise while the case proceeds.
Diocese communications director Gene Fadness said there was strong reaction from parishioners about the news of Faucher’s arrest.
“(They were) stunned, deeply saddened, shocked, (and) sad for not only children who are exploited like this, but sad for the many faithful priests, deacons, religious sisters, lay people who every day, without fanfare, do the work of the church — the way this kind of reflects on them,” Fadness said.
Prosecutors said they have no signs that Faucher ever acted on his alleged urges. Boise Police Department spokeswoman Haley Williams said Tuesday that her department had not received any complaints about Faucher since his arrest. Idaho court records show no significant convictions for Faucher; his attorney said in court Monday that he has no criminal record at all.
Faucher has been retired for three years. He grew up in Boise and attended Saint Mary’s Catholic Church as a child, before returning here in 2002 to serve as its pastor.
He had been an active part of the church for years, including in its schools. Officials at St. Joseph’s Catholic School, Bishop Kelly High School and Saint Mary’s Catholic School largely deferred questions Tuesday to Fadness. Bishop Kelly communications director Katie Kerby said she did not know of any complaints about Faucher from parents or students at that school.
Fadness could not speak to every Catholic school in Boise, but said Saint Mary’s Catholic School has addressed the issue with parents of its students. The diocese’s superintendent of Catholic schools has also been communicating with school principals, he said.
Parishioners were especially saddened for Saint Mary’s, Fadness said, because the situation colors the church’s extensive community services. Saint Mary’s does a lot of outreach to the Hispanic community. It has a food bank, a school, and does other work to support the Treasure Valley.
Fadness, himself, is a parishioner of Saint Mary’s. While he was unsure if every priest spoke to their congregations about Faucher’s arrest, he said, his priest did talk to parishioners.
“Our pastor spoke briefly about it,” Fadness said. “He told the people to let the justice system play out, to not speculate, (and) he talked a lot about light shining in darkness and trying to give people hope. There’s a lot of people there who have known Fr. Faucher for years, so there was a lot of sadness and a lot of shock and some anger.”
At the time of his arrest, Faucher was living alone in a Boise home off Hill Road that he paid to rent from Saint Mary’s, Fadness confirmed. Because of the lease agreement, the church can’t immediately evict Faucher if he is released from jail.
Fadness also said the diocese is not paying for Faucher’s private attorney, Mark Manweiler. Fadness said the diocese would never pay for the legal defense of a priest.
Christensen called for prayer regarding the case and any “exploited” children, and advised any victims of child sexual abuse to report their experiences to police. He also referenced a sexual misconduct review board operated by the diocese, which investigates church reports internally. A call from the Statesman on Tuesday to the board’s director, Mark Raper, was not immediately returned.
CORRECTION: Both drug charges in this case are misdemeanors. Online court records originally indicated otherwise.