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New court date, judge set for man accused in priest attack

Chad Legare1 / 2
Father Robert Wapenski, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Anamoose, N.D. Catholic Diocese of Fargo / Special to Forum News Service2 / 2

TOWNER, N.D. — The Alexandria man charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and burglary in connection with an attack on a clergyman has had a new court appearance scheduled and a new judge assigned to his case.

Chad Legare, 42, was to appear in Northeast District Court in Towner for a status conference Tuesday, Feb. 27. However, that appearance, Legare's second, was canceled. Legare is now scheduled for an appearance before the court at 11 a.m. March 13.

Presiding over Legare's upcoming hearing will be Judge Donovan Foughty. Judge Michael Hurly heard Legare's initial appearance but has since been recused from the case after requesting that he be disqualified. Laurie Fontaine, the presiding judge in the Northeast District, agreed and designated Foughty to preside over the case "to its conclusion."

Legare is being held at the Heart of America Correctional Facility in Rugby. His bond was set at $250,000 cash during his first court appearance on Feb. 8 following his arrest and extradition from Alexandria.

The charges against Legare stem from a Jan. 30 incident in which Father Robert Wapenski, 62, of St. Xavier's Church in Anamoose was attacked on church grounds early in the morning. Wapenski was treated for injuries suffered in the attack and subsequently released from a Harvey hospital. According to an affidavit filed with the court, those injuries came from attempted strangulation with computer speaker cords.

During his bond hearing, Legare alleged that Wapenski was a rapist. Prior to the day of the attack in Anamoose, a complaint was filed with Minot police accusing Wapenski of committing sexual assault.

According to a probable cause affidavit by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Legare's girlfriend told Legare that she had been sexually assaulted by Wapenski but that she would not testify to that accusation. The woman said to be the victim initially denied to investigators that any rape occurred but later recanted that denial. No charges have been filed against Wapenski. Wapenski has not returned to his duties at St. Xavier's.