Priest Makes Deal on Assault Charges

Woonsocket Call [Worcester MA]
April 6, 2005

WORCESTER -- A former Millville priest charged with two counts of assault and battery will spend the next 18 months on supervised probation and is barred from performing any priestly duties.

As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, the Rev. Jean Paul Gagnon stood before a judge in Worcester Superior Court Tuesday and admitted to sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilty, according to a spokeswoman for the Worcester County district attorney’s office.!Gagnon, a Roman Catholic priest, was pastor of Millville’s St. Augustine Church for seven years. The charges stemmed from incidents that occurred during that time. The victim was an adult when the alleged assaults occurred.

The case was continued without a finding. Gagnon was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation. During that time he is required to submit to alcohol abuse and mental health evaluations, and comply with any recommended treatment.

Just hours after Gagnon’s court appearance, Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Worcester Diocese released a statement later that day announcing that Gagnon "is on administrative leave and cannot exercise any priestly ministry in this diocese or anywhere."

The bishop’s statement, which was e-mailed to some parish members, also expressed sympathy for victims and for the parish.

"As with any news of harm being inflicted by one person upon another, we receive it with heavy heart, particularly when it involves a member of the clergy," the bishop stated.

"In Christian charity, I ask that you pray for the families of all who have been impacted by this situation, including the Gagnon family, as well as the people of St. Augustine Parish."

Gagnon left St. Augustine in late 2002, shortly after a Worcester resident filed a civil suit alleging Gagnon had sexually molested him. Those allegations were not connected to the charges faced Tuesday.


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