Accused Priest to Stay in Wra Post

By Bronislaus B. Kush
Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)
March 20, 2002

WORCESTER — The Rev. Lee F. Bartlett, the South Worcester priest and activist who has been accused of molesting a boy, will remain on the board of the Worcester Redevelopment Authority, at least for now.

City Manager Thomas. R. Hoover said he was shocked when he read allegations in the Sunday Telegram that Rev. Bartlett had molested a teen-ager during drunken parties held for youths at the priest's home in Eastham.

"At this point, he just stands accused," Mr. Hoover said. "No matter how heinous the allegations, I have to let the process work itself out."

Mr. Hoover said he will ask for Rev. Bartlett's resignation if criminal charges are filed by District Attorney John J. Conte's office.

Mr. Hoover said Rev. Bartlett, 57, called his office after the stories appeared, but the city manager was not available to talk to the clergyman.

Rev. Bartlett, the pastor at Sacred Heart Church on Cambridge Street since 1985, has been placed on leave by Bishop Daniel P. Reilly and is now living at his Cape Cod home.

Mr. Hoover said he ran into Rev. Bartlett at the St. Patrick's Parade on March 10.

He said Rev. Bartlett told him he planned to take a two-month sabbatical and asked the city manager whether he should resign from the redevelopment authority.

Mr. Hoover said he told Rev. Bartlett that there was nothing major pending before the panel and said the four other members could handle any business that might come up.

"I was shocked when the news came out," Mr. Hoover said.

Most of the WRA members serve at the will of the city manager.

Mr. Hoover appoints four members of the WRA board. The fifth is a state appointee.

Mr. Hoover said there have been few instances when he has been forced to remove a member of an advisory board. In one case, Mr. Hoover said, he removed someone because that person was not showing up for meetings.

In Rev. Bartlett's case, Mr. Hoover said, he plans to consult with City Solicitor David M. Moore and will monitor developments in the matter.

Rev. Bartlett's appointment expires in April 2003.

The priest also served as a member of the Citizen Advisory Council under the administration of former City Manager William J. Mulford.


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