Claims against Retired Priest

By Michael Gelbwasser
Sun Chronicle
December 11, 2007

A retired Maine priest who once worked in Attleboro and Mansfield has been temporarily removed from the ministry after being accused of sexually abusing a minor while serving in Massachusetts.

The Diocese of Portland, Maine, on Saturday removed the Rev. Maurice T. Lebel, pending an investigation into the complaint.

"The decision to restrict Father Lebel from ministry should not be construed as prejudging the outcome of the investigation" but rather "is intended to facilitate the investigation," the Fall River Diocese said Monday in a statement.

The complainant, a Massachusetts resident, claims to have been assaulted and sexually abused between ages 15 and 17, during the early 1980s.

At that time, Father Lebel was a Jesuit priest - a member of the Society of Jesus - ministering in Massachusetts.

He was a counselor for diocesan Catholic Social Services from 1976 to 1986 at its Fall River office and then at its Attleboro office.

During that time, he was in residence first at St. Joseph Parish in Fall River and then at St. Mary Parish in Mansfield.

In 1986, Father Lebel was transferred from the Fall River diocese to the Portland, Maine, diocese by his community.

Bishop George Coleman of the Fall River diocese is urging anyone who might have information which could help the investigation to call Deacon John Brennan of the Portland diocesan Office of Professional Responsibility at 207-321-7836 or, locally, Arlene McNamee of the Office for Child Protection of Catholic Social Services at 508-674-4681, or the Bristol County District Attorney's office at 508-997-0711.


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