Cape Priest Flees Country after Abuse Accusation

By David Abel
Boston Globe

August 20, 2008

A Cape Cod priest fled to his native Brazil after being accused of sexually assaulting a child in Connecticut, church officials said yesterday.

The Rev. Jose Afonso Lima, 46, of South Yarmouth was suspended last week from his work ministering to the Brazilian community at St. Francis Xavier Church in Hyannis, St. Patrick's Church in Falmouth, and Good Shepherd Parish on Martha's Vineyard, said John Kearns, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River.

Church officials said Lima learned of the allegations when he received a letter last week from the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.

Kearns said that Lima promptly alerted church officials about the allegations and denied them.

He was placed on temporary leave last Wednesday and told to leave his residence last Thursday at St. Pius the Tenth Parish and to go to Danbury, Conn., where he was to remain under church supervision until the allegations were resolved.

"I am deeply troubled by this matter and understand how devastating the announcement of it is to the Brazilian community," Bishop George W. Coleman of Fall River wrote in a letter to parishioners last week.

Lima was part of a mission of priests based in Bridgeport, Conn., who came to the United States to minister to Brazilians living in this country. He is a US citizen who has worked on Cape Cod since 1998, Kearns said.

Kearns said there have been no allegations of abuse against Lima in the Fall River Diocese, which includes Cape Cod.

He said diocesan officials called Bridgeport police after learning that Lima left the country. They are urging Lima to return to the United States.

Bridgeport police did not return calls for comment.


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