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Former Malden Priest Charged with Sexual Assault [Updated]

Franklin Huntress, 78, charged after five-month investigation, according to New Hampshire Police.

[Editor's note: This article was updated at 9:17 p.m..]

Bedford, N.H. Police have confirmed the arrest of Franklin Huntress Jr., a former Episcopal priest charged with felonious sexual assault stemming from an incident or incidents involving a juvenile under the age of 13 in the early 1980s. Huntress served briefly at St. Paul’s Parish in Malden during the early 1960s.

The Rev. Timothy Rich of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire confirmed Thursday that an unnamed person came forward after accusations against Huntress surfaced in Massachusetts that led to his resigning from the priesthood in February. A statement from the Boston Diocese differed slightly, saying Huntress was removed in February.

“In October 2010, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts received a complaint against Franklin E. Huntress Jr. alleging sexual misconduct with a minor in 1974.  An investigation was conducted in accordance with the canons of the Episcopal Church, which led to Mr. Huntress’s removal, in February 2011, from the priesthood of the Episcopal Church,” read the statement.

According to Bedford Police Detective Matt Fleming, the 78-year-old Huntress, who was arraigned Thursday in Hillsborough County Superior Court, was arrested by law enforcement in Marblehead, Mass. and extradited to New Hampshire as a fugitive from justice.

Fleming noted that Huntress was not running from police, but rather required extradition because he was living in Massachusetts when he was arrested.

According to Rich, the latest alleged assault occurred in the early 1980s. A victim, Fleming said, contacted Manchester Police several months ago, and the investigation soon became multi-jurisdictional when it became clear that a possible assault had taken place within Bedford town limits. The detective said he was unable to provide further details about the case's Bedford ties at this time.

Huntress was released on $25,000 bail following his arraignment, according to WMUR-TV.

Bedford and Manchester Police urge anyone with further information in this case contact to contact them. Bedford Police can be reached at 603-472-5113.

 [Roberto Scalese contributed to this report.]

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