Reilly Removes Priest from Duties
Millville Pastor Accused of Abuse
By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette
July 18, 2003
WORCESTER - Bishop Daniel P. Reilly has removed the Rev. Jean-Paul Gagnon from his pastorate at St. Augustine parish in Millville and placed him on administrative leave.
This is the eighth priest Bishop Reilly has removed and placed on leave since allegations of sexual abuse involving priests in the Worcester Diocese began surfacing last year. Five of those pastors recently tendered their resignations so the bishop could appoint permanent replacements.
Rev. Gagnon had been on personal leave since October when a civil suit was filed against him alleging that he sexually abused Timothy P. Staney of Worcester. Rev. Gagnon has denied the allegations in court documents filed with Worcester Superior Court.
Rev. Gagnon's status was changed by the bishop Wednesday. He said he did not want the parish to be "'spiritually burdened." He recently assigned the Rev. Robert A. Loftus to give priestly assistance to the parish and Deacon William J. Lucier was appointed temporary parish administrator.
The bishop said the change in status "came in the course of the ongoing investigation" by the Diocesan Review Committee and the bishop's office.
"Father Gagnon will not be engaging in any public ministry in this diocese or elsewhere. In keeping with our policy, we have cooperated fully with the district attorney's office in their investigation of the allegation made against him dating to the mid-1980s," the bishop said.
Bishop Reilly said he has been meeting with parish leadership and staff of the Office for Healing and Prevention and has met with parishioners to offer assistance and support. He officiated at a Holy Thursday service there in April.
"I ask for your prayers and support for all involved in this matter and their families. Please pray for the parishioners of St. Augustine parish, whom Father Gagnon has served since 1996. In charity, I also ask for your prayers for Father Gagnon and his family during this time," the bishop said.
"It's way overdue," Mr. Staney said yesterday. Mr. Staney said he believes placing Rev. Gagnon on leave "speaks to my credibility.
"Even before my case came on the horizon, there was ample information dating back many, many years which should have justified this action," he said. Mr. Staney alleged in his lawsuit that he was first sexually abused by Raymond Tremblay, a religious education teacher at Holy Name of Jesus parish, Worcester, starting at age 9 and then was abused by Rev. Gagnon after he revealed the abuse to him during confession, which is a sacrament of the Catholic Church.
Bishop Reilly beginning last year placed on leave the Rev. John J. Bagley of St. Mary, North Grafton; the Rev. Raymond P. Messier of St. Francis of Assisi, Athol, and St. Peter, Petersham; the Rev. Chester J. Devlin of St. Bernadette, Northboro; the Rev. Gerald P. Walsh of St. Roch, Oxford; the Rev. Joseph A. Coonan of St. John Worcester; the Rev. Peter J. Inzerillo of St. Leo, Leominster; and the Rev. Lee F. Bartlett of Sacred Heart, Worcester. All but Rev. Inzerillo and Rev. Coonan have resigned their pastorates.
Rev. Inzerillo, who was an associate pastor, had already resigned as pastor and Rev. Coonan's alleged offenses occurred before he was ordained and, while he is still on leave, he has not resigned.
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