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New Hampshire authorities said Wednesday they cannot prosecute former Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre on charges he abused two teenagers in the 1970s because it was not a crime at the time to have sex with youths their age.

Will Delker, New Hampshire's senior assistant attorney general, said the state did not prohibit adults from having sex with 16- and 17-year-olds until 1986.

Dupre, 70, the first Catholic bishop to face sexual abuse charges, was accused of having oral sex with two Massachusetts boys during a trip to New Hampshire when they were 16 or 17.

Saying the statute of limitations had expired, officials in Massachusetts have also declined to prosecute Dupre over allegations he abused the same boys in that state in the 1970s.

Hampden County (Mass.) District Attorney William Bennett had said in September that he would turn over the results of a grand jury investigation to federal officials, as well as authorities in New Hampshire, New York and Canada. The two men who alleged they were abused in Massachusetts and New Hampshire also say they were abused in the other two locations.

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