Priest Charged with Child Molestation

United Press International
May 2, 1988

A Roman Catholic priest removed from his duties last month following allegations that he molested altar boys was charged Monday with taking indecent liberties, the Clallam County prosecutor said.

The Rev. Paul Conn was charged with five counts of sexually molesting five different boys between 1987 and just before April 18, when he was removed from his job at Queen of Angels parish in Port Angeles, said Prosecutor David Bruneau. All the boys were under 14, he said.

Conn, who is scheduled to make a court appearance Friday on the charges, faces up to 10 years and a $20,000 fine on each felony count, Bruneau said. Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen issued a statement saying the archdiocese would cooperate fully with the authorities in investigating the matter.

''Above all else, I want to express my heartfelt concern for those whose lives have been impacted by this difficult and painful situation, and to assure them that we are doing everything in our power to deal responsibly with all concerned,'' Hunthausen said.

Hunthausen said Conn, 36, has been suspended from his duties as the assistant priest at the parish and has been referred to a lawyer. He also said the first concern of the archdiocese in cases involving child abuse by church employees, including priests, is ''the pastoral care of the victims, the well-being of the community, and the immediate evaluation and treatment of the offending person.''

''I understand (Conn) is essentially cloistered,'' said Bruneau. ''That was a very responsible thing for them to do. They've essentially removed him from all contact with children.''

Bruneau said complaints from the children first came to the attention of the senior priest at the parish about three weeks ago. That priest notified archdiocesan officials, who in turn contacted the police.

The charges were filed after detectives interviewed the children and their parents, Conn, and the other parish priest, Bruneau said. Parishioners at Queen of Angels were told of the matter about a week after Conn was removed.


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