Former Waltham Pastor Accused of Abuse
By Julia Spitz
MetroWest Daily News
May 25, 2012
A priest who pleaded no contest to charges he embezzled more than $100,000 from a Waltham parish has been placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Boston due to allegations of sexual abuse.
The Rev. Joseph F. Byrne, pastor of Waltham’s Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted Church from 1994-2002, most recently served as a senior priest with limited ministry in parishes in the Falmouth area, the archdiocese said in a statement today. The allegations of improper contact with a child in the early 1970s were only recently reported to the archdiocese, officials said. The specifics of the allegation are not being revealed due to the ongoing investigation and to protect the identity of the person making the allegation, an archdiocese spokeswoman said.
The archdiocese has notified law enforcement of the allegation and initiated a preliminary investigation into the complaint, archdiocese officials said.
Byrne will remain on administrative leave without any public ministry pending the outcome of the preliminary investigation, the archdiocese said today.
“The decision to place Fr. Byrne on administrative leave represents the archdiocese’s commitment to the welfare of all parties and does not represent a determination of Fr. Byrne’s guilt or innocence as it pertains to this allegation,’’ the archdiocese said in its statement. “The archdiocese will work to resolve this case as expeditiously as possible and in a manner that is fair to all parties.’’
In 2005, Byrne pleaded no contest to seven counts of larceny over $250 and was sentenced to five years probation on each count.
He was accused of transferring about $135,000 in Our Lady church funds into several personal bank accounts between 1997 and 2002.
His attorney blamed the discrepancies on sloppy bookkeeping.
After the 2005 court case, Byrne remained a priest in good standing, but could no longer serve as the pastor of a parish, archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon said at the time.
Prior to his assignment at the Waltham church, the Falmouth resident served as the parochial vicar at St. Albert the Great in Weymouth from 1985-1994; and was assigned to St. John the Baptist in Quincy from 1975-1985; St. Matthew, Dorchester, from 1969-1975.