Suspended Priest Resigns, Ending Battle to Return to Ministry

February 9, 2008

WORCESTER, Mass. -- A Worcester priest suspended after allegations of bizarre sexual misconduct has resigned, ending a long battle for reinstatement.

The Rev. Joseph Coonan was suspended in August 2002 after alleged victims said Coonan abused them as teens while he was working as a camp counselor and teacher in Oxford in the 1970s.

They accused Coonan of sexually touching them and urging them to urinate, masturbate or defecate in his presence.

Coonan, a popular and charismatic priest, refused to resign from St. John Church and appealed to the Vatican.

But the Worcester diocese said Coonan has formally resigned from St. John. That ends his battle to return.

Coonan was also arrested twice in 2006 on charges of assaulting his mother and sister. The charges were dismissed in both cases.


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