|Charges against Former Attleboro Priest Dropped
By Ted Nesi
April 18, 2008
ATTLEBORO - The person who accused a retired Holy Ghost priest of molestation almost 30 years ago has decided not to press criminal charges against him, prosecutors said Thursday.
The Rev. Bento Fraga, who served at the Attleboro parish in the 1970s, was stripped of his authority to minister by the Fall River Diocese last month after a church review board found credible allegations against him of sexual misconduct with a minor.
However, the alleged victim is not going to file criminal charges against Fraga at this time, according to Brian Glenny, first assistant district attorney in Barnstable County, whose office is leading the investigation.
But Glenny also said the case is not yet closed and charges could be filed at a later date.
investigation is being conducted by our state police detectives, and the complaining witness at this point does not wish to pursue criminal action," Glenny said.
Glenny said his office has not been made aware of any other allegations against the priest.
The incident reportedly took place in a private home in 1979 while Fraga was assigned to Holy Ghost. It was first disclosed to church officials in January.
Although Fraga has denied the allegations, a diocesan review board's investigation found them credible, officials said last month.
The review board then forwarded the allegations to law enforcement personnel.
Fraga was stripped of his authority to minister and also was ordered to move out of the parish house at St. Anthony's in Taunton.
Fraga, who was ordained in 1956, also served at churches in Somerset, New Bedford, Provincetown and most recently St. Anthony's, according to the diocese.
News that the alleged victim would not seek charges comes the same week that Pope Benedict XVI, who is visiting the United States, said the "gravely immoral behavior" of clergy sex abuse has caused "enormous pain" to those affected and "deep shame" to the Catholic Church.
During a meeting with American bishops, among them Bishop of Fall River George Coleman, the pontiff said the scandal "was sometimes very badly handled."
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