Molokai Priest Removed for Alleged Abuse in Philippines

By Adamski, Mary
Honolulu Star - Bulletin (Hawaii)
January 28, 2003

Molokai Catholics were told Sunday that Honolulu Bishop Francis DiLorenzo has removed their parish priest from duty because of allegations of sexual abuse of a minor in his homeland, the Philippines.

DiLorenzo removed the Rev. Roberto Batoon, 57, as pastoral administrator of the Molokai Catholic Community, a cluster of three churches, and instructed him to return to his diocese of Laoag near Manila.

"Father Batoon admitted to the substance of the allegations," said the Rev. Gary Secor, head of the diocesan Office of Clergy. He declined to discuss the specific claims but said there were reports from 15 years ago and a more recent claim from within the past year.

Secor said Batoon had indicated he would leave Hawaii yesterday.

Secor said he and the Rev. Thomas Gross, diocesan vicar general, met with Batoon last week after the accusations were relayed to the diocese.

"When I met with the parish leadership at Kaunakakai Sunday afternoon, I did tell them that our reason in making such allegations public ... is that there is always a possibility that someone (else) has been abused and, if so, to please come forward and share it with us," Secor said.

The announcement will also be made at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Pearl City, where Batoon was associate pastor from November 1997 to July 1999, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ewa Beach, where he was associate pastor from August 1999 until his assignment to Molokai in August 2001.

Secor said no local action will be taken. He said he has spoken to Bishop Ernesto Salgado, of the Laoag diocese, who indicated he will meet with Batoon there.


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