Accused Priest Returns to Ministry Following Investigation

The Associated Press, carried in WMTW
February 13, 2006

KENNEBUNK, Maine -- A Catholic priest has returned to his parish in Kennebunk after an investigation could not substantiate a complaint of improper contact with a minor six years ago.

Rev. Laurent Laplante stepped down as pastor of St. Martha's Parish in December after a high school girl reported that Laplante touched her pants on the knee and inner thigh when she was 9 years old.

Laplante denied any wrongdoing, and the church launched an investigation.

In a letter to parishioners, Bishop Richard Malone said Laplante returned to his pastor duties this weekend. He said the weight of the evidence was not sufficient to determine if an incident did or did not happen.

Malone said that information was made available in every parish where Laplante has been assigned in his 48 years in the ministry, and that no other complaints were received.


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