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  Priest Accused of Groping Boy, 16
Diocese Temporarily Suspends Horseshoe Bay Cleric, 74, after His Arrest outside Movie Theater

By Tony Plohetski
Austin American-Statesman (Texas)
December 20, 2005

The 16-year-old boy was sitting alone in the Marble Falls movie theater Friday evening when, police say, a 74-year-old priest sat next to him, even though there were plenty of other empty seats.

Then, about an hour into "King Kong," police said, the Rev. Paul Clogan reached over and groped the teenager.

The boy ran out of the theater and told the manager, who called police. Capt. F.T. Goodwin said officers arrived minutes later and arrested Clogan as he left the movie.

Clogan has been released from the Burnet County Jail after posting bail. He could not be reached for comment Monday. Church officials said Clogan had hired an attorney but declined to provide the lawyer's name.

Goodwin said that there were no witnesses to the incident but that police moved forward with the case because "every bit of (the boy's) story was checked out and checked out to be correct."

Clogan, who was serving at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Horseshoe Bay, has been removed from active ministry until the case is resolved, Bishop Gregory Aymond said.

The Diocese of Austin is conducting an internal investiga- tion.

Clogan, who diocese officials say has no history of sexual abuse, became a priest in 1999 after his wife died; he transferred from Maine to the Catholic Church of Central Texas in January 2001.

He has served at St. Catherine of Siena in Austin, St. Joseph in Bryan, Holy Trinity in Llano and St. Joseph in Mason, according to the diocese. He has served in Horseshoe Bay, which is on Lake LBJ in the Hill Country northwest of Austin, since August 2004.

In a letter to Clogan's congregation, Aymond asked church members to pray for Clogan and the boy.

"Even in the midst of difficulties and trials, God is faithful and able to provide healing," he wrote.

Allegations of sexual misconduct among priests have plagued the Catholic church in recent years.

The Austin Diocese said it has held numerous seminars on how to handle sexual abuse complaints and conducts background checks of all clergy, staff and volunteers.

In September 2004, the Rev. Lonnie Reyes of St. Julia's in East Austin acknowledged having sexual relations with an underaged girl in the 1970s and resigned from the ministry.

The diocese is investigating whether there are other allegations of sexual misconduct against Clogan, and Aymond asked anyone familiar with any possible incidents to call police.

"We have absolutely nothing else on file," said Helen Osman, a diocesan spokeswoman. "If someone has other information, we certainly would encourage them to let the police know."

Aymond said that the diocese is cooperating with investigators and that he has been in touch with Clogan's family.

Goodwin said the boy, who apparently lives in Burnet, had been dropped off by his parents at the movie theater.

He said Clogan made no statements before his arrest.

 
 

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