Lowell Pastor Suspended in Sex-Abuse Allegation

By Dana Willhoit
Lowell Sun (Lowell, MA)
September 10, 2002

LOWELL The Archdiocese of Boston suspended a local priest yesterday after an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor was made against him.

The allegation against the Rev. Leonard E. Pelletier, pastor of St. Louis de France in Lowell for about six years, dates back more than 20 years but was recently reported for the first time, the archdiocese said in a statement.

Details of the allegation were not released. The suspension was made in accordance with the archdiocese's new zero-tolerance policy on priests accused of sexual abuse.

The archdiocese did not return a call this morning, and a woman at the rector was unable to provide any information except to say Pelletier wasn't in and that he was placed on administrative leave.

Pelletier's suspension was announced to parishioners at the end of a special Mass held last night at the church to honor those who lost their lives on Sept. 11.

"They said he was removed as of today, and they wanted to tell us about it before we heard about it from other sources," said Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, who attended the Mass. "People were very surprised."

Archdiocesan representatives have met with the parish staff of St. Louis de France. A regional bishop, a social worker and other support staff planned on attending weekend Masses, the archdiocese said. Pastoral and counseling support also have been offered to the alleged victim and Pelletier.

The church, situated on West Sixth Street in the Centralville section of the city, was founded in 1904.

When Cardinal Bernard Law came under fire earlier this year because of his role in reassigning priests who had been accused of sexual abuse, Pelletier told The Sun that the question of whether Law should resign was his to make.

"The church is a greater entity than all of us," he said at the time. "The spirit is with us, guiding the church and as a Catholic, I believe that. The church was built on rock that is [Saint] Peter."


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.