Bishop Peter Christensen of the Diocese of Boise says he was “absolutely stunned” when he heard a retired member of the clergy had been booked into the Ada County Jail on a slew of felony sex charges.
Rev. W. Thomas Faucher, a retired priest from St. Mary's Catholic Church in Boise, was arrested Friday. He’s charged with ten counts of sexual exploitation of children and two counts of distributing sexually exploitative material involving minors. He was also charged with drug possession.
The Diocese e-mailed the statement to news media outlets late Tuesday.
Prosecutors say hundreds of child pornography images -- as well as marijuana, LSD and ecstasy -- were discovered in Faucher’s rented Boise home.
“The news of Rev. Faucher’s arrest and the evidence collected by law enforcement agencies is deeply disturbing to say the least, said a Diocese news release. “The shock and emotions that many Catholics and others are experiencing over the allegations are understandable.”
“When I first heard of these allegations, I was absolutely stunned,” said Christensen. He said the Diocese has never received similar complaints regarding Father Faucher -- and if the Diocese had, it would have immediately contacted law enforcement officials, as it would for any such report.
“If these allegations are true and proven in court, they are a betrayal of the trust we place in all ministers such as Father Faucher. 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,” Christensen added.
Christensen encouraged victims of child sexual abuse to come forward and report to law enforcement officials. They may also report to the Diocesan Safe Environment and Victim Assistance Coordinator, Veronica Childers, at 208-350-7556.
A judge set Faucher's bail at $250,000 during the arraignment hearing Monday. Faucher was ordered to have no contact with children and barred from accessing the internet.
Defense attorney Mark Manweiler argued for Faucher's release, saying no complaints have been filed against him during his more than 40-year career, which involved being around thousands of children.
(the Associated Press contributed to this story)