Priest Pleads Not Guilty to Sexual Misconduct

Burlington Free Press
September 11, 2006

ST. Albans — Rev. Stephen Nichols pleaded not guilty to one charge of lewd and lascivious conduct in Vermont District Court in St. Albans this afternoon.

According to the police affidavit, Nichols attempted to fondle an 18-year-old man in April 2005. The incident allegedly took place at Nichols' home in Richford.

The victim, who was identified only by his initials in the affidavit, said he was considering converting to Catholicism and was befriended by Nichols. Later, the victim and Nichols took two trips to Canada together, and after the second visit, Nichols tried to fondle the victim several times, but was rebuffed.

Nichols, who was accompanied by his lawyer, Mark Kaplan, declined to comment to reporters.

Bishop Salvatore Matano, the bishop of the statewide Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, also attended the hearing, but declined to comment to reporters after the hearing.

On Friday, Matano said Nichols, who was parish priest at St. Elizabeth Church in Lyndonville and Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Danville at the time the allegation surfaced in August 2005, has been on leave from his priestly duties since April.


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