Priest Put On Leave after Sex Allegations

By Associated Press
July 10, 2004

Norwich, CT - The Norwich Diocese has suspended a Pomfret priest following allegations that he sexually abused a boy in the 1970s.

Father Paul L. Hebert, pastor of Most Holy Trinity Parish, has been placed on a leave of absence while the matter is investigated, the diocese said.

Jacqueline Keller, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said Friday that in addition to its own investigation, the diocese has referred the matter to the state Department of Children and Families and the state's attorney's office.

The allegations date back to when Hebert was a priest at St. Michael's Church in Stonington, from 1971 to 1981, according to The Day of New London.

Bishop Michael R. Cote made the announcement in a June 28 letter to parishioners, which was read at masses last weekend.

"My heart and prayer go out to the man who has made the allegation for the suffering he has experienced over a long period of time," Cote wrote. "I pray he will find healing and reconciliation as we seek to discover the truth."

Hebert, 72, has denied the allegations, the church said. There was no answer Saturday at a number listed for him in Pomfret.

The bishop has assigned Father John J. O'Neill, the pastor of St. James Church in Danielson, to be the temporary administrator for the parish, Keller said.

Hebert was ordained in 1959. He served at St. Patrick Cathedral in Norwich, St. John's in Old Saybrook, St. John the Evangelist in Montville and St. Mary of the Visitation in Clinton before being named pastor at St. Michael's.

He was named pastor of Most Holy Trinity in 1981.

"It is my responsibility to make you aware that if anything ever happened here at Most Holy Trinity Parish, if anyone was ever inappropriately treated, I urge you to come forward," Cote wrote. "The Church is prepared to assist you in any way it can."


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