Diocese of Portland Finds Recently Received Complaints Against Two Priests Stemming from Incidents in 1950’s and 1970’s Substantiated

Diocese of Portland ME

January 21, 2022

Following two investigations by the Diocese of Portland’s Office of Professional Responsibility, Bishop Robert Deeley accepted the recommendation of the Diocesan Review Board that the recent complaints made against Fr. Eugene Descombes and the former Fr. Renald Hallee are substantiated.

The complaint against Descombes concerned the sexual abuse of a minor in the mid-1950’s which came to the attention of the diocese in 2021. The incident took place during a trip to Canada. Descombes, who died in 1980, was a Canadian priest who served during the summer months in Maine over the course of several years. The Archdiocese of Québec was notified of this complaint and the results of the investigation.

The complaint against Hallee concerned the sexual abuse of a high school teen in the early 1970’s which was reported to the diocese in 2020. Hallee has not been in ministry or served as a priest since the late 1970’s. He petitioned and was granted a dispensation from the obligations of sacred orders. 

In accordance with diocesan policy, both complainants were referred to the diocesan victim assistance program, which includes counseling. Civil authorities were also notified.

The information gathered by the Diocese of Portland’s Office of Professional Responsibility was presented to the Diocesan Review Board for its review. The board advises the bishop regarding cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

Since the implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002, the Diocese of Portland has worked diligently to ensure a safe environment for all young people. A recent, independent, on-site audit of safe environment procedures found the diocese in full compliance with the Charter.

As always, Bishop Deeley encourages anyone who may have information about any case of sexual abuse of a minor by a Church representative to contact civil authorities and Michael Magalski, director of the Office of Professional Responsibility for the Diocese of Portland, at (207) 321-7836 or michael.magalski@portlanddiocese.org.