Church questioned over role in defense of Cooperstown shooter

By By JOLEEN FERRIS

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (WKTV) - An Otsego County church's role in the defense of a gunman accused of shooting a local teen is bothering some.

Saint Mary's, Our Lady on the Lake, is a Roman Catholic Church in Cooperstown that has devoted space in their weekly bulletin to telling parishioners how to donate to Anthony Pacherille's defense trust fund.

Pacherille, 16, is accused of attempted murder as a hate crime in the shooting of Wesley Lippit, also 16, in front of witnesses at the Cooperstown Police Station back in April.

"Everybody that's spoken with me felt that it was inappropriate that it would be in the catholic church's bulletin," said Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl. "They felt that the church should not be involved with the soliciting of funds to help the defense of someone who's charged with a crime."

"I'd say they are kind of bigoted and not informed," said Father John P. Rosson, of Saint Mary's, of anyone disturbed by the message in the church bulletin.

"There are a number of people concerned about the preponderance of pre-judgment in this case," continued Rosson, who stressed that the church was simply informing the congregation about the plight of a parishioner, and that no pleas for cash from the pulpit or overt requests for cash were made.

A spokesperson for the Albany Diocese says the church didn't overstep its bounds, but the diocese stopped short of endorsing the move.

"While the Albany Diocese would not necessarily agree with the inclusion of a notice such as this in a parish bulletin, matters of this nature are left to the prudential judgment of the parish," said Ken Goldfarb, Director of Communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.

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