Ruling dismissing charges against priest overturned
CONCORD — The New Hampshire Supreme Court has vacated a lower court ruling that had dismissed criminal charges against an aging Episcopal priest who is accused of sex crimes with a minor in the 1980s.
Late last week, the Supreme Court vacated an order by Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Kenneith Brown, who ruled that the evidence against Franklin Huntress was insufficient to meet the state’s burden of proof.
In a five-paragraph order, Chief Justice Linda Dalianis said Brown lacked the authority to dismiss the charges.
All five justices signed the order to remand the case to the trial court.
“We express no opinion as to whether the evidence, described by the trial court in its order, would be legally sufficient, if introduced at trial with no other evidence, to survive a motion for directed verdict at the close of the state’s case,” Dalianis wrote.
Huntress, the former priest at Grace Episcopal Church in the 1970s, was 78 when he arrested three years ago.
Huntress was removed from the priesthood by Massachusetts Bishop Thomas Shaw in 2011, after he resigned rather than face a church trial when allegations surfaced that he sexually abused a child in England in 1994 as well as at an undisclosed location in the United States.