The Portland Press Herald [Portland ME]
January 19, 2023
By Emily Allen
The Rev. Robert Vaillancourt spent roughly one year on administrative leave while church officials investigated allegations of sexual abuse in the 1980s. The diocese said in July that these allegations have not been substantiated.
A Maine priest who was recently investigated after sexual abuse allegations were lodged against him has been cleared by the diocese and was assigned to a new parish in Auburn on Monday.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland said it determined last year that the allegations against the Rev. Robert Vaillancourt were unfounded. No criminal charges have been filed.
Vaillancourt was serving several churches in the Midcoast area under St. Brendan the Navigator Parish when he was placed on leave in July 2021 while the diocese investigated claims that Vaillancourt abused a child more than 30 years ago.
The diocese has not publicly released where that alleged abuse took place.
A second woman later came forward with similar claims through her attorney, alleging she was abused in the 1980s while Vaillancourt was at St. Andre’s Parish in Biddeford.
The diocese announced in July 2022 after a year-long investigation that both claims were unsubstantiated.
Vaillancourt is now serving as a priest at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Auburn.
Vaillancourt received the assignment in December because the parish’s priest at the time, the Rev. Robert Lariviere, was retiring, Dave Guthro, a spokesperson for the diocese, said Thursday.
“The staff and parishioners at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish are thrilled with his arrival,” said Guthro in an email.
Guthro said the diocese investigated claims against Vaillancourt and also notified civil authorities and law enforcement agencies. The Diocese of Portland’s review board studied an internal report from the diocese into the allegations and “unanimously agreed” with its findings. Bishop Robert Deeley approved the findings before notifying the Vatican, which agreed with the diocese’s conclusions last year.
Vaillancourt could not be reached Thursday at the church to discuss his new posting.
It’s not clear if either of the women plans to file civil complaints against Vaillancourt or the diocese. A state law change in 2021 removed the statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims, allowing those with older claims to sue. More than 14 lawsuits have already been filed in Maine since that change. Neither woman has been publicly named. Attempts Thursday to reach one of the women through an attorney were unsuccessful.