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  Alleged Victim Sought for Talks
Information Needed in Priest Abuse Case

By Steve Cannizaro and Paul Rioux
The Times-Picayune [New Orleans, LA]
March 27, 2004

Authorities in St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes said they need to talk to a man who says he was sexually abused by a priest about 30 years ago before they can decide whether to file criminal charges.

But, St. Tammany law enforcement officials said the man might not want a criminal prosecution.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans said Wednesday that the Rev. Gerard P. Kinane, 58, who worked at churches in Chalmette, Slidell and Houma, was suspended after being accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy in 1973 and again in 1975 while the priest was at St. Mark Catholic Church in Chalmette. The complainant was 14 at the time of the first alleged incident, officials said.

Archdiocesan officials said they will forward information about the case to law enforcement agencies in St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes.

But a church representative told St. Tammany sheriff's officials this week that the man who filed the complaint with the archdiocese on March 18 has said he doesn't want the priest to be prosecuted.

James Hartman, spokesman for the St. Tammany Sheriff's Office, said his office has asked the archdiocese to tell the alleged victim that investigators would like to talk to him.

"Certain crimes we're obligated by law to pursue," Hartman said. "We need to talk to the alleged victim." Without him, "it severely limits what we can do," Hartman said.

St. Bernard Parish law enforcement officials said they also would like the man to make a report with the Sheriff's Office.

"He would have to make an official complaint for us to initiate a criminal investigation," said Col. Richard Baumy of the St. Bernard Sheriff's Office.

St. Bernard District Attorney Jack Rowley said officials need to know specifics of the alleged crime before they can determine whether prosecution is warranted.

Kinane, a native of Scranton, Pa., had until Tuesday been performing limited priest and pastoral work at St. Luke Catholic Church in Slidell. He was placed on administrative leave and "his priestly faculties" were withdrawn by Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes, the archdiocese said. Kinane can no longer live on archdiocesan property, officials said.

Kinane lived part-time in the church rectory at St. Luke and also had a camper, off church grounds, in which he sometimes stayed, said the Rev. Rodney Bourg, pastor of St. Luke.

The complaint alleges that Kinane engaged in "sexual misconduct" with the boy while Kinane was associate pastor at St. Mark Catholic Church on Missouri Drive in Chalmette from 1973 to 1978, the archdiocese said.

The Rev. William Maestri, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said a formal investigation will be conducted by the church and information might be turned over to the Vatican.

Kinane, who worked at St. Hilary Catholic Church in Houma from 1981 to 1985, has been at the Slidell church since 1999, the archdiocese said. He also worked at churches in Pennsylvania and Florida, officials said.

 
 

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