Two Maine Priests Accused of Sex Abuse

By Beth Quimby
Maine Sunday Telegram
December 9, 2007

Massachusetts authorities are investigating a complaint alleging sexual abuse of a teenager in the early 1980s by a retired Portland priest who is still active in the ministry in southern Maine.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland announced Saturday that the Rev. Maurice T. Lebel, 74, was removed from the ministry this past summer pending the results of the investigation, which are expected shortly.

At the same time, the diocese announced another complaint of sexual abuse had been made against a deceased Portland priest, the Rev. John J. Curran, who died in 1976 at age 76.

The diocese reported that the complaint against Lebel, initially received by the Archdiocese of Boston in March, involved a Massachusetts resident who claims to have been assaulted and sexually abused by Lebel, then a Jesuit priest, between the ages of 15 and 17.

Bishop Richard Malone restricted Lebel from the ministry in June while Massachusetts authorities investigated.

The diocese reported that the Massachusetts investigation is almost complete, and the Portland diocese will resume its own investigation, suspended at the direction of the Massachusetts authorities, to determine whether Lebel's removal would become permanent.

Lebel came to Portland in 1991. A Brunswick native, he joined the Jesuits in 1959, was an assistant teacher at Cheverus High School in 1964 and was ordained in 1967. His assignments in Massachusetts were in Lenox and Fall River.

In 1986, Lebel moved to St. John Parish in Bangor, then to St. Mary in Presque Isle, St. Joseph in Mars Hill, Sacred Heart in Auburn and St. Catherine of Siena in Norway. Since retiring in 2003, he has worked as temporary administrator of St. Martha in Kennebunk and as a fill-in minister at St. Mary in Wells and All Saints in Ogunquit.

Curran served at churches around Maine, most recently at St. Joseph in Old Town and St. Augustine in Augusta. The complaint against Curran, lodged in March, concerned alleged abuse in 1962. The diocese had received an earlier complaint against Curran in 1995, which was not corroborated.

The diocese asked anyone with information about either case to contact police or Deacon John Brennan, director of the office of professional responsibility at the diocese, at 321-7836.

Diocese officials were not available for comment Saturday.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:


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