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  Retired Priest Suspended after Report of Abuse
Man Says He Was Molested As Achild in the Early '80s

By Tiara M. Ellis
Dallas Morning News
May 18, 2002

A retired local priest was suspended after a sexual abuse allegation was reported to the Dallas Diocese, officials said Friday.

The Rev. Michael Flanagan, 73, was suspended in April after a man told Catholic Diocese of Dallas officials that he was abused as a child in the early 1980s.

Diocese officials did not know whether Father Flanagan performed any duties with the diocese, but many retired priests substitute for priests who are ill or taking time off.

The account of sexual abuse was "brought forward and reported to Child Protective Services immediately," said diocesan spokesman Bronson Havard.

Diocese officials would not release any information about the reported abuse except to say that it was in the early 1980s when the victim was a minor.

Father Flanagan could not be reached for comment.

The suspension prohibits Father Flanagan from working in any ministry, celebrating Mass or presiding at any church worship. But he has not been defrocked.

Father Flanagan was forced into retirement in May 1999 after diocese officials learned that he had been arrested on charges of public lewdness involving an adult in the 1990s, according to a statement from the diocese.

Bishop Charles V. Grahmann said the suspension supports the diocese's policies created to protect children and others.

"I am deeply saddened and upset by this report. On behalf of all members of the diocese, I apologize to the victim and pray that his coming forward can be part of a healing process," Bishop Grahmann said in a written statement.

Father Flanagan, who is from New York, was ordained in the Bronx in 1961.

He has served at Sacred Heart Cathedral, now the Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe; St. Patrick Co-Cathedral, now known as St. Patrick Cathedral in Fort Worth; St. Patrick Church in Dallas; Christ the King Church in Dallas; St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Plano; St. Mary Church in Sherman; and Immaculate Conception Church in Corsicana.

He also served as a chaplain at Baylor University Medical Center from 1990 to 1998.

The suspension comes after two Dallas priests were transferred in April for not completing criminal history checks on employees and certain volunteers as is required by the diocese.

The policy on criminal history checks was started in response to child molestation cases involving former priest Rudy Kos in 1997.

Father Flanagan's suspension is the first since the Rev. Kenneth Roberts was suspended in 1998. Mr. Roberts was suspended after disobeying orders by Bishop Grahmann to end his public ministry and not work with young people.

 
 

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