Former Lewiston Priest Is Punished

By Mark LaFlamme
Sun Journal
July 18, 2008

LEWISTON - A former Lewiston priest was disciplined Thursday for sexual abuse of his relatives, nearly half a century after the abuse allegedly began.

The Vatican assigned Marcel L. Robitaille, 70, to a life of prayer and penance.

He is barred from celebrations of the Eucharist and administration of the sacraments. He cannot wear clerical garb or present himself publicly as a priest. He must obtain pre-approval from the bishop of Portland for travel beyond his daily routine and he is required to make daily holy hours and monthly days of recollection.

According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Robitaille was accused of sexual abuse in 1989 by members of his family, who alleged incidents of abuse dating back to 1959.

Robitaille was accused by two brothers and a nephew who claimed he had sexually molested them over a period of years.

The men filed a lawsuit against him in 1993 but lost their case. Criminal charges were never filed against Robitaille because of issues with the statute of limitations.

Between 1968 and 1970, Robitaille was assistant pastor at Holy Family Parish in Lewiston, according to church officials.

It was later, while he was serving in another part of the Maine, that the allegations began to surface. In 1989, Robitaille was sent for evaluation and treatment for five months and returned to ministry.

The last reported instance of abuse occurred in 1986, according to the diocese.

In 1993, Robitaille's ministry was restricted again due to pending legal action by members of his family. Soon after, he resigned as pastor.

Another complaint was received in 1997 from a person outside the family. That person claimed Robitaille had abused him in 1972, according to the diocese.

By the time that accusation arose, Robitaille was already restricted, meaning he was allowed to celebrate Mass only in particular circumstances. Since April 2002, he has had no public ministry.

That, according to the church, is in keeping with new rules regarding sexual misconduct.

"Since June of 2002, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People has ensured that for even a single act of sexual abuse of a minor, the offending cleric will be permanently removed from ministry," said Bishop Richard Malone.

Before he was removed from ministry, Robitaille had served in several Maine towns, including Sanford, Waterville, Dexter and Belfast.

Contacted on Thursday about the Vatican decision, Robitaille's family members said they were not ready to discuss the matter.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.