Midcoast priest returns to duties after being cleared of sexual abuse allegations

Bangor Daily News [Bangor ME]

July 27, 2022

By Leela Stockley

If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 800-871-7741.

The Rev. Robert C. Vaillancourt will return to his duties after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland determined allegations of sexual abuse were unfounded.

Vaillancourt was placed on administrative leave in July 2021 while being investigated for an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor girl in the 1980s. Although he has not yet been assigned his newest post, Vaillancourt will be returned to active ministry effective immediately, according to the Portland diocese.

Investigations into the allegations included interviews with more than 30 individuals, according to the diocese, as well as record and document checks, which did not find evidence to prove that the alleged events occurred. Findings from the investigation were reported to the Diocese of Portland’s Review Board, which found that there was no evidence to suggest that Vaillancourt should not return to ministry services.

The findings of the investigation were corroborated by Bishop Robert Deely, as well as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, who accepted the conclusion of the investigation.

Vaillancourt, often called Father Bob,   previously led the Maine delegation to World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, the last time Pope John Paul II visited North America before his death. On that trip, 350 young people and their chaperones went to see the Pope.

Prior to being appointed the leader of the St. Brendan the Navigator Parish, Vaillancourt served as a hospital chaplain at Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospital, both in Portland, with weekend duties at the Parish of the Holy Eucharist in Falmouth. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1982.

Over the years,   he has served at parishes in Biddeford, Madawaska, East Millinocket, Old Town, Hampden, Winterport and Rumford. He also has served as diocesan director of the Office of Vocations and the youth ministry at different times.