Diocese Removes Accused Pastor

Associated Press, carried in [Maine]
December 5, 2005

PORTLAND, Maine -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland announced that the pastor of a church in Kennebunk is stepping down, pending an investigation into an allegation that he had improper contact with a minor six years ago.

The diocese said Saturday that the Rev. Laurent Laplante's "temporary removal from public ministry" was for "the purpose of preserving the integrity of the process, to give potential witnesses the greatest freedom, and to fulfill the church's commitment to protect children."

Laplante, 74, has been pastor of St. Martha's Parish in Kennebunk since 1995.

The diocese said a high school girl recently reported that when she was 9 Laplante touched her pants on the knee and inner thigh. Laplante has denied any wrongdoing and has indicated he will cooperate with the diocese in its investigation, according to the church statement.

The church statement said the diocese immediately reported the allegation to public authorities and that Bishop Richard Malone had spoken with the family.

The diocese has offered its support and counseling, according to the statement.

"My concerns are to seek the truth, to be of support to this young lady and her family, to leave no doubt about our commitment to protect children, and to deal with Father fairly and compassionately," Malone said.

The bishop urged anyone with information on this case, or who has been abused by a priest or church representative, to make a report to diocesan authorities.

The diocese said Laplante was ordained in 1957 and served as a young priest at St. Ignatius in Northeast Harbor and at St. Charles in Brunswick. From 1959 to 1967 he served at St. Theresa Parish in Mexico and was religious education associate director for the diocese from 1967 to 1972.

He served at St. Matthew Parish in Hampden until 1978 when he became pastor at St. Margaret Parish in Old Orchard Beach. In 1983 he was named pastor of St. Matthew in Limerick; and in 1989 he began serving as pastor of St. Andre Parish in Biddeford.


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