Priest Facing Sexual Assault Charge

The Connecticut Post
August 2, 2007

Naugatuck (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest was arrested Thursday on a sexual assault charge involving a child, then suspended by church officials.

The Rev. Robert J. Grant, 63, was taken into custody Thursday morning and later released on a $200,000 bond, said Police Chief Christopher Edson.

Edson said Grant was charged with second-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. The chief said he could not elaborate because the alleged victim is a juvenile.

Grant is the pastor of St. Mary and St. Hedwig churches. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Hartford, which oversees Naugatuck parishes, said Grant has been placed on administrative leave.

"We are deeply troubled by this morning's arrest of Father Grant," said the Rev. John Gatzak, spokesman for the archdiocese. "He will not be able to do ministry or function as a priest pending the outcome of the investigation."

The archdiocese has taken several steps in recent years to safeguard children, Gatzak said. He said every priest and employee who works with children undergoes thorough background checks as well as a mandatory program for recognizing the signs of sexual abuse.

Children at the archdiocese's schools are taught how to recognize when they are being lured, encouraged not to keep secrets, and told where to get help, Gatzak said.

"In light of all of this, it's almost inconceivable that something like this can happen today," Gatzak said.

Ordained 14 years ago, Grant has been pastor of St.

Mary's since 2005 and was recently named pastor of St. Hedwig. Gatzak said a replacement for the churches had not immediately been appointed.

"Every effort is going to be made to see that the people of both parishes are served," Gatzak said.


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