Cote faces sexual abuse charges in Maryland
SOMERSET – A priest who served at Holy Trinity Church in the late 1980s has been indicted on one count of custodian child abuse in Maryland.
The Rev. Aaron Joseph Cote, 56, of the 100 block of East 65th Sreet in New York, turned himself in to police at the First District station in Rockville, Md., on Tuesday night, according to Melanie Hadley, public information officer for the police department.
The abuse took place between 2001 and 2002 in Germantown, according to the Department of Police in Rockville.
Cote had his bond of $250,000 cash posted Wednesday afternoon and will be released from the jail, according to his attorney, Terrance McGann.
McGann had no further comment.
The Dominican Order in New York refused to comment.
Cote was held overnight at the jail and was denied a reduced bail during a court appearance Wednesday, said attorney for the victim, Jeff Anderson.
“This is good news for Brandon, his family and all the victims this man has been allowed to victimize,” said Anderson. “I’ve been chasing this guy for three years through Peru, Las Vegas, Ohio, Massachusetts, New York and Washington, D.C. I think we all feel vindicated.”
Brandon Rains was 14-years-old at the time Cote is accused of molesting him and according to Hadley, he was being counseled by Cote on a regular basis while Cote was serving part-time as the youth minister at the Mother of Seton Parish in Germantown.
According to court records, Cote would take the boy to an apartment in Germantown and engaged in inappropriate personal sexual activity in the boy’s presence and also conducted inappropriate touching.
The abuse continued for about a year.
In 2005, Rains filed a civil lawsuit against Cote and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and last year was awarded a $1.2 million settlement, court records show.
Cote served in the Somerset parish in the late 1980s.
Joe McMorrow, Rains’ stepfather, said criminal charges may never have been filed if it had not been for the work of the state attorney’s office and the police.
“Our main goal in all of this has been to protect the children,” said McMorrow. “I give a lot of credit to the criminal charges being brought to the victims from the Somerset area that have come forward and helped with this case. If there are any other victims out there I beg them to tell someone, call us or the police and know that they are not alone.”
McMorrow said Rains is not quite ready to speak publicly about his feelings about the arrest but is “doing well and is happy.”
“The family hopes that this arrest brings a little peace to Cote’s victims,” McMorrow said. “While we don’t know what the outcome will be, we are working hard to bring this man to be held accountable for his actions.”
Anderson said he’s thrilled that Cote is being charged criminally and could face up to 15 years in prison.
“This person has been concealed and protected by the church for so long while he was in jail was at least a period of time that no children were at peril,” said Anderson.
Cote, a priest with the Dominican order, served part-time at the Mother Seton Parish in Germantown from 1997 to 2002 and also served part-time at St. Jane Francis de Chantal Parish in Bethesda from 1997 to 1999.
Hadley said anyone who has reason to be concerned about inappropriate contact with Cote should contact the Pedophile Section of the Montgomery Police Department Family Crimes Division at 240-773-5400.
Staff Writer July 3, 2008