Child Molestation Returns to Parish

NBC 4 [Los Angeles CA]
November 9, 2004

LOS ANGELES -- A priest accused in a lawsuit of molesting a boy two decades ago returned to his Roman Catholic parish over the weekend after he was cleared in an internal 10-month investigation, it was reported Tuesday.

Father Richard Delahunty returned to his Roman Catholic parish Saturday after the investigation found "no credible evidence" against him, church officials said in remarks reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The pastor of St. Nicholas Church in Laguna Woods is the first Orange County cleric to be reinstated after a molestation accusation since the Roman Catholic Church's sex scandal erupted in 2002, according to The Times.

The alleged abuse occurred in the early 1980s while Delahunty was a pastor at St. Barbara Church in Santa Ana, and the suit is pending. He had been on paid leave since Dec. 26, 2003, after a civil suit alleging sexual abuse was filed against him.

"No decision by a bishop has been more deliberated than the one I have just made," Bishop Tod D. Brown said in a written statement quoted by The Times.

"I had to be fair to Father Delahunty, who has served the people of God since 1965, while taking seriously this allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor."

The bishop's decision follows a recommendation by the diocese's nine-member sexual misconduct board, which includes children's advocates, a retired police chief, a retired judge, a priest and a nun.


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