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  Maui Church Official Suspended after Sex-Abuse Allegation

By Mary Adamski
Honolulu Star-Bulletin [Hawaii]
July 24, 2005

A Maui man has been removed from the position of administrator of St. Ann Church in Waihee while officials investigate an allegation that he sexually abused a minor.

"The diocese has been in contact with the police, who confirm they are investigating," said Patrick Downes, spokesman for the Honolulu diocese. He said the alleged abuse occurred recently but declined to give further information.

The man, who is a deacon, was put on administrative leave June 22. Besides being removed from the paid managerial position that he held for six years, he is not allowed to perform any kind of public ministry, Downes said.

The Rev. Gary Secor, who heads the diocesan Standing Committee on Sexual Misconduct, went to Maui last weekend to discuss the situation with parishioners in the small parish outside of Wailuku.

He told them that the former administrator has declined to speak to diocese officials about the matter, Downes said.

The church will conduct its own investigation. On the standing committee with Secor are a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a family counselor, all of whom specialize in child abuse cases, Downes said. Other members are lawyers and priests.

The decision to suspend the deacon from duty was made by the Rev. Thomas Gross, a priest who was administrator of the diocese until the Most Rev. Clarence Silva was installed Thursday.

Silva's predecessor, Bishop Francis DiLorenzo, removed six priests from assignments and withdrew their "faculties" to say Mass and other public ministry. He removed four of the men in the early 1990s and sidelined two others because of accusations that surfaced since the nationwide scandal about priests' molestation of minors arose in 2002.

Deacons are usually laymen who serve as volunteers to assist a pastor with liturgies, preparing couples for marriage and other roles. They are not authorized to say Mass or administer sacraments.

Downes said that Secor assured the Maui congregation that "the diocese has a policy to protect children and youth and is committed to seriously address these allegations and respond quickly."

The Rev. Peter Dumag has been named temporary administrator of St. Ann Church.

 
 

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