Sunday, February 11, 2018

Retired Roman Catholic priest in Boise to be evicted from his diocese-owned home after being charged with possession of illegal drugs and child pornography

Yet another one, as reported by Michael Katz, Ruth Brown, and Katy Moeller of the Boise Idaho Statesman, February 8, 2018 (updated February 9, 2018) (links in original):

Feb. 9, 2018 update: Church spokesman Gene Fadness says Rev. W. Thomas Faucher will be served an eviction notice Friday afternoon. A certified letter regarding the eviction will also be sent to Faucher.

Faucher pays to rent his home from the Diocese of Boise. Fadness earlier this week told the Statesman that Faucher’s lease agreement prevented the church from evicting Faucher following recent charges of child porn and drug possession.

Friday, Fadness said the church does have options regarding the lease that he was previously unaware of. Friday’s action by the church would start the process laid out in Idaho law for an eviction.

Reached Friday afternoon, Faucher’s attorney Mark Manweiler said he was not aware of the eviction and had no immediate comment as a result.

Earlier reporting continues below:

A street normally bustling with children has been abnormally quiet the past few days. For the families who live near W. Thomas Faucher’s residence, a feeling of shock, anger and fear has dampened what is usually a lively block.

Faucher, 72, a retired priest at Saint Mary’s Church in Boise, was arrested Friday on 12 charges related to having or distributing child pornography, and two counts of drug possession. All but the drug charges are felonies. Prosecutors claimed Monday that investigators found hundreds of images of child pornography, online chats where Faucher spoke of “desires to rape and kill children,” and drugs including marijuana, ecstasy and LSD.

Prosecutors told the Statesman on Thursday that they have no reason to believe the children in the images are from the Boise area, though they have not verified who they all are yet.

Faucher, in jail over the weekend, was released Tuesday night after posting $250,000 bond. A judge forbade him from having any contact with children and from using the internet while his case progresses. His next court date is set for Feb. 15.

Faucher lives off of Hill Road, a block away from Cynthia Mann Elementary School in Boise’s Collister neighborhood. His arrest and subsequent release on bail have shaken his neighbors. The streets nearby are home to several families with young children who eagerly run to each other’s homes after school.

“No kids have been walking around, and it’s 60-something degrees,” said neighbor Tina Johnson, who was baptized by Faucher but said she has no relationship with him now.

The ordeal has been so jarring that Johnson’s son, 12-year-old Jack Wermerskirchen, who used to set up lemonade stands near Faucher’s house, said he “slept with my airsoft gun last night.”

Johnson said Faucher’s release put her and others on edge.

“When I found out he was back in the neighborhood, I’ve just been outraged. And I think mostly that’s fear-driven,” Johnson said.

Neighbors said they seldom saw Faucher, as he mainly kept to himself.

“He was not really a presence in the neighborhood other than that we knew that he lived there,” neighbor Jerrod Wong said.

Faucher declined comment Wednesday when two Statesman reporters visited his home, saying his attorney had asked him not to speak while the case was pending.

That attorney, Mark Manweiler, argued that his client was not a risk during an arraignment hearing Monday. Manweiler pointed to Faucher’s lack of criminal record and “impeccable reputation.” He said the priest answered five hours’ worth of questions from police, and said there has never been a claim of abuse or impropriety aimed at Faucher despite the “tens of thousands” of children his client has been around.

Manweiler also argued then against the no-contact order. He said Faucher was expected to have many community members visit after leaving jail, and he did not want his client to unintentionally violate the order if visitors brought a child with them.

“(Faucher) is well-liked and well-known,” Manweiler said. “He counts among his good friends people at the highest level of both branches, both of state government and our local government and some judicial officials here in Ada County.”

Faucher’s home is owned by Saint Mary’s Church. Some neighbors want the church to evict him.

Elizabeth Herseth’s son and grandchildren live a few houses away. Herseth lives in Seattle but visits her son four times a year for a week at a time. On this occasion, Herseth arrived the night Faucher was arrested.

Since Faucher’s release, Herseth has written letters to Saint Mary’s, the diocese and the Ada prosecutor, asking for his eviction.

“I thought, I have to make some phone calls, and I have to write some letters, because I just can’t live with this,” she said. “I’m appalled. It almost brings me to tears.”

A provision in Idaho law says that if a landlord has “reasonable grounds to believe that any person is, or has been, engaged in the unlawful delivery, production or use of a controlled substance,” a complaint for eviction can be made.

Gene Fadness, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise, said he could not comment on details of Faucher’s lease agreement. Previously, he said the agreement prevented the church from evicting Faucher immediately once he was released from jail.

“The concerns of the nearby neighbors are paramount to us,” Fadness said Thursday. “However, until new developments take place in the case, we have no further comment.”

Until some action is taken, some neighbors say they feel trapped.

“It’s going to affect our lives, and it’s going to affect the way we function,” Johnson said. “Jack’s not going to have a lemonade stand on the corner this summer. It’s almost like we’re prisoners in our own home because he’s here, and that’s not OK.”

CORRECTION: Both drug charges in this case are misdemeanors. Online court records originally indicated otherwise.

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