According to the Idaho Statesman, 72-year-old Reverend W. Thomas Faucher was recently arrested on charges of sexual exploitation of a child but the latest developments suggest there's much more to the story. Speaking at the Boise's priest's court hearing, the prosecutor for the case told the court that besides the child pornography found on his computer, drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy, and LSD were found at his home.
The 14 charges leveled against him include 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a child, two counts of distributing sexually exploitative material involving children, and two further counts of drug possession. The latter charges amount to misdemeanors, with the former being felonies.
Having received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, officials obtained a search warrant for the priest's house from the Idaho Attorney General's Office two weeks ago. Deputy Prosecutor Kassandra Slaven told the court that amongst the images found on Faucher's computer were those that involved young children, including infants and toddlers, subjected to different sexual acts and torture.
She also spoke about Faucher's email conversations where he traded images of these children and talked about his sexual interest in them. Describing the priest's knowledge of child pornography as 'very sophisticated,' she said some of his chats that investigators reviewed showed Faucher's talking about his desires to molest, rape, and kill children.
Judge Michael W. Lojek ordered that the priest be held on a $250,000 bond and directed that he neither have any access to the internet nor be allowed to have any contact with children below the age of 18. He also forbid the use of drugs but permitted alcohol because of Faucher's faith.
Faucher was brought into the court in a wheelchair, with his attorney Mark Manweiler arguing for the release of his client because of Faucher's lack of criminal record and 'impeccable reputation.' He also said that Faucher never previously had a claim of abuse of impropriety leveled at him despite the fact that he had been around 'tens of thousands of children' in his lifetime.
Manweiler also raised a grievance against the judge's no-contact order, arguing that Faucher was expected to have several visitors in jail, some of them being children and that he did not want his client to unintentionally violate that order.
There is a permeating sense of irony in Faucher's case. A very vocal and progressive voice in the community in his heydays, he consistently spoke against the sexual abuse of children by priests. He has previously criticized the Catholic church's handling of child sex abuse cases, calling for the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Shaw for his role in covering up the extensive abuse of Catholic priests within his archdiocese.
Addressing the child sex abuse scandal that the Catholic church was embroiled in during 2010, Faucher infamously wrote in the Idaho Statesman in 2010 that the then-82-year-old Pope Benedict XVI should retire because he was 'much too old to lead the church through this mess.' When Benedict did resign in 2013, he blamed the pope's record on sex scandals and that he 'did not discipline the bishops who caused the cover-up."
He has also spoken out against the death penalty and its perceived benefits and tried to dispel the often paraded notion that homosexuality is, in fact, a choice. He has also vouched for immigration reform, insisting that it was both a moral and economic decision. He has also urged for the greater recognition of women in the church.
Susan Pohl, who taught music at St. Mary's Catholic School while Faucher was the pastor of the church, attested to Faucher's character and said that the priest delivered great sermons and worked hard to make sure the school had the resources it needed to be successful.
She told the Statesman: "He was always gracious and gentlemanly and kind and supportive. You never really know people fully. ... And there are things about all of us that we are not proud of. We all have many sides and many faces, and the side that I saw was excellent. So that's the side I'm going to hold up - his goodness and his worth."
His attorney attempted to use these examples to argue Faucher's cause but to little avail. The bombshell revelations have meant there were other repercussions as well. While he has been retired for three years, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Biose distanced itself from the priest.
Gene Fadness, communications director for the diocese, said: "He has not held any pastoral assignments since that time [of his retirement]. Because of the seriousness of the allegations, Faucher will be unable to minister in the Diocese of Boise in any way. The diocese will cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in their investigation."
Following the news of Faucher's arrest, Bishop Peter Christensen of the Diocese had released a statement describing how, when he first heard the news, 'sadness entered my heart, followed by a shock and sense of betrayal," adding that the diocese would not be paying for the priest's legal defense nor contributing toward a bond for his release. Here is the full statement:
Faucher has since been released on bail and is expected to next appear in court on February 15.
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