Chad Legare, left and Rev. Robert Wapenski.

Attempted murder; two other charges against Minneota native

Chad Vincent Legare, a 1994 Minneota graduate now living in Alexandria, has been charged with three felonies, including attempted murder by strangulation, stemming from an attack of a North Dakota priest last month.
 
Legare was arrested Monday in Alexandria and was held in the Douglas County jail while awaiting extradition, according to Douglas County Sheriff Trey Skager. 
Legare is also charged with aggravated assault and burglary.
 
North Dakota's McHenry County Court records indicate that Rev. Robert Wapenski of the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Anamoose, ND, was strangled on Jan. 30 and survived. 
 
Records describing the nature of the alleged crimes has been sealed by the court.
 
Paul Braun, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, did not know if the attack of Rev. Wapenski took place inside or outside of the church.
 
Anamoose is a town of 250 people and is located approximately 100 miles northeast of Bismarck.
 
After McHenry County deputies extradited him, Legare appeared at a bond hearing last Thursday in McHenry County District Court in Towner, ND. At that hearing, Legare, 42, referred to Rev. Wapenski as a rapist. 
 
Legare, who did not enter a plea at the court hearing, was questioned by the judge as to whether he posed a threat to anyone if he were to be released from jail.
 
Legare responded: “As long as (Rev. Wapenski) didn't rape any other women, he's safe from me”, according to the Mouse River (ND) Journal newspaper that was covering the court hearing. 
 
The judge set bail at $250,000 and Legare's next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 27.
 
The Catholic Diocese of Fargo issued a statement last Thursday that it is “cooperating with law enforcement into the investigation of Father Wapenski and its surrounding circumstances. The Diocese encourages anyone with knowledge of a crime concerning a church worker to report the crime to appropriate authorities.”
 
The Diocese also revealed that it had received a report from Legare prior to the attack on Wapenski.
 
“We directed him to report the matter to police and were informed that he had done so. The Diocese made contact with the alleged victim out of concern, and she denied (Legare's) allegations,” the Catholic Diocese of Fargo's statement read. 
 
The day before the court hearing, a reporter from the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria visited Legare's home for a comment. A woman who answered the door admitted the she was Legare's girlfriend and is the connection between Legare and Wapenski.
 
The woman, who is not being identified, told the reporter from the Echo Press that she and Legare met at a restaurant in Minot, ND last November. According to the Echo Press, the woman said she and Rev. Wapenski knew each other well.
 
Before she met Legare, the unidentified woman told the Echo Press that she had previously lived in the South and came to North Dakota with her daughter and they met Rev. Wapenski by chance at a park and the two had remained friends. 
 
Rev. Wapenski is recuperating from his injuries and is not currently at the parish. Last weekend, a substitute priest handled Wapenski’s priestly duties.
 
McHenry County State’s Attorney Josh Frey said he could not comment on the investigation into the Wapenski assault case while it is ongoing.
 
According to Douglas County court records, Legare had a felony domestic assault by strangulation charge in in July 2015 that was dismissed after he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct.

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