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A Hollis Man's Apparent Admissions to Religious Elders About Molesting Two Sisters Can't Be Used as Evidence in His Trial, a Judge Has Ruled

Associated Press Newswires
Copyright 2001. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

NASHUA, N.H. (AP) - A Hollis man's apparent admissions to religious elders about molesting two sisters can't be used as evidence in his trial, a judge has ruled.

Gregory Blackstock, 45, is scheduled to go to trial next Monday on charges he molested two East Kingston sisters.

Even without the admissions to elders at his Jehovah's Witness congregation, prosecutors say there's enough evidence to bring the case to trial.

The state wanted to subpoena a minister and elders from Blackstock's congregation to testify about meetings at which they discussed the allegations.

Judge William Groff ruled last week the meetings were confidential and protected by religious privilege.

Blackstock faces eight counts of rape, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

He has been jailed since October, when he was convicted in Rockingham County Superior Court on a charge involving another girl in East Kingston.

In Hillsborough County, Blackstock is charged with assaulting two East Kingston sisters at his home in Hollis between June 1996 and October 1998, and with assaulting a Hollis girl at his home at various times between September 1989 and June 1996.

The two cases are to be tried separately, the first next Monday and the second on June 25.

Hillsborough County Attorney Roger Chadwick had argued that Blackstock's discussions with the elders does not qualify under the confessional privilege, because the elders also discussed Blackstock's statements with the girls' mother.

Blackstock and his lawyer, Richard Monteith, argued the meetings were confidential, and to intrude on that privacy violates Blackstock's
constitutional freedom to practice his religion.

Blackstock became acquainted with the girls' families while living in East Kingston and attending a Jehovah's Witness church there.

The sisters' mother contacted her church elders after one of the girls disclosed the abuse, Chadwick said. That elder then contacted elders in the Hollis congregation.

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