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Welcome to the NEW Atkinson Reporter! Under new management, with new resolve.

The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Nun accused in hit and run hopes to move on


PLAISTOW — Sister Rachel Dumont is trying to put the stress of the last several months behind her.

The 84-year-old Atkinson nun, who has been at the center of a criminal hit-and-run case, is hoping to move forward and continue her volunteer work.

“I want peace of mind,” she said Thursday.

Dumont, who’s been a nun for the last 65 years, was charged with conduct after an accident in February after Plaistow police investigated a report of hit-and-run accident outside the Kohl’s department store last Dec. 16.

She pleaded no contest to the violation-level offense last month, meaning she neither admitted nor denied guilt. A judge then found her guilty and fined her $250, which was suspended.

Despite the finding, Dumont maintains her innocence.

“I was not involved in that. I didn’t hit anybody,” said Dumont, who taught in Catholic schools in New Hampshire and several other states for more than 50 years.

Police have said their investigation showed Dumont backed her car out in the parking lot and hit another vehicle that was parked. Dumont was then accused of leaving the scene before she and the driver of the other vehicle could exchange information.

Dumont insists she wasn’t parked in the area where the accident happened and had no damage to her car to suggest it was involved.

Her defense lawyer, Skip Campbell, said he believes the case would have resulted in a not-guilty verdict had it gone to trial.

The misdemeanor conduct after an accident charge was reduced to a violation. Pleading no contest and avoiding a trial was a move to get the case out of the court system, according to Campbell.

Dumont and Campbell also claimed that she was treated unfairly by Plaistow police with some of the questioning, and was viewed as uncooperative when she was interviewed at the police station.

Dumont said she has faced harassment from police and the public, especially after her arrest was publicized in February.

“Being a nun and believing that God allows all things to happen, I figured there was a good reason for it. I never knew the reason, but I accepted it. Emotionally I was upset, but spiritually I was all right. I just want to put it behind me,” she said.

Police Chief Kathleen Jones insists that police didn’t mistreat Dumont and that she wasn’t harassed.

“I stand by the actions of my officer. There was no inappropriate behavior or conduct. We felt Sister Rachel was treated appropriately during the investigation and subsequent arrest,” Jones said.

She said she understands that it was a difficult situation. However, she said, “we did have a victim in this matter. We needed to conduct a thorough investigation.”

Dumont’s good friend, Pauline Labbe, said she believes the sister wasn’t responsible for the accident.

“It’s been a nightmare. I’ve been trying so hard to clear her name,” she said.

Dumont is now trying to keep focused on helping others. She said she takes those in need of help to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store and on other errands. She said she’s helped the sick, volunteered at the Pregnancy Care Center in Haverhill, Mass., walked for several different causes over the years and been involved in other charity work.

“I do it out of the love of my heart,” she said.