Subscribe for 33¢ / day

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- A man accused of strangling a North Dakota priest was dating a woman who lived in an apartment co-signed by the priest, according to records given to Forum News Service.

Chad Vincent Legare, 42, of Alexandria, is charged in McHenry County with attempted murder, aggravated assault and burglary in the Jan. 30 attack on Rev. Robert Wapenski, 62.

Wapenski was serving St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Anamoose, a town of 250 people about 60 miles southeast of Minot, where the woman lived. Court records say Wapenski was choked with speaker wire and beaten in his office.

In an affidavit, Legare accused the priest of raping his girlfriend, an accusation he repeated in court. Records supplied to Forum News Service as proof of his girlfriend’s connection with the priest include the apartment rental record, as well as Wapenski’s name on the current registration of a car she said he gave her to drive.

Forum News Service is not naming Legare’s girlfriend in keeping with its policy of not naming victims or potential victims of sexual abuse.

Rental records of a Minot apartment building include the woman’s name as well as Wapenski’s as co-signer for the apartment beginning Oct. 4, 2017.

The woman, who grew up in the South, said she met Wapenski in July after traveling to North Dakota with her daughter, now 9, to learn how to tend livestock on a North Dakota farm. The farm didn’t work out, and she met Wapenski in a park as she was leaving the state.

She said she met Legare in Minot in November and they fell in love.

Wapenski did not reply to an email from Forum News Service seeking comment, and the Catholic Diocese of Fargo declined to say whether they were aware of the apartment or the car.

“Again, this is an ongoing investigation and we will have no further comment at this time,” said Paul Braun, director of communications for the diocese.

He would not say whether he was referring to the law enforcement investigation or whether the diocese was conducting its own internal investigation.

Legare is being held in a jail in Rugby. His next court appearance is set for Feb. 27.