SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – New Hampshire authorities said Wednesday they cannot prosecute former Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre (search) on charges he abused two teens in the 1970s because it wasn't a crime at the time to have sex with youths their age.
Will Delker (search), New Hampshire's senior assistant attorney general, said the state did not prohibit adults from having sex with 16- and 17-year-olds until the 1980s.
Dupre, 70, the first Roman Catholic (search) bishop to face sexual abuse charges, was accused of having oral sex with two Massachusetts boys during a trip to New Hampshire when they were 16 or 17.
Saying the statute of limitations had expired, officials in Massachusetts have also declined to prosecute Dupre over allegations he abused the same boys in that state in the 1970s.
Hampden County, Mass., District Attorney William Bennett had said in September he would turn over the results of a grand jury investigation to federal officials and authorities in New Hampshire, New York and Canada. The two men who alleged they were abused in Massachusetts and New Hampshire also say they were abused in the other two locations.
Dupre also faces lawsuits filed against him by the accusers.
Michael Jennings, Dupre's lawyer, said he was relieved "that those who would seek to prosecute the bishop are learning that either no crimes were committed or that so much time has passed that the law says it's unfair to now make someone defend themselves."
Dupre resigned in February after nine years as head of the Springfield Diocese (search). He cited health concerns, but his departure came one day after The Republican newspaper of Springfield confronted him with allegations he abused the boys while he was a parish priest during the 1970s.