Retired Priest Accused of Sexual Misconduct

By Sarah Ovaska
January 24, 2010

RALEIGH -- A retired Roman Catholic priest, who served in a Garner church in the mid-1980s, was suspend from having public duties as a priest in the Roman Catholic Church after accusations of sexual misconduct surfaced last fall.

Kenneth R. Parker, 73, had retired in 1993 but had his responsibility taken from him last week by diocese of Raleigh's Bishop Michael Burbridge, according to a news release from the diocese.

Parker, who now lives in Carthage, denied any wrongdoing took place, in a brief telephone interview.

"I'm innocent," Parker said. "The accusations are false."

Church officials were contacted by the accuser in November and then reported it to authorities as it conducted its own probe, according to the church news release. A board then reviewed the findings and Burbridge made his decision to suspend Parker's public "priestly faculties" on Tuesday.

No details about the allegation itself were available, other than that it involved a minor and the misconduct is alleged to have occurred in 1982.

Parker became a priest in 1965 and served in North Carolina churches throughout his career, until his retirement in 1993.

Locally, he was a pastor at Our Lady Of Guadaloupe Parish in Newton Grove from 1979 to 1985 and in Garner's St. Mary Mother of the Church from January 1985 until he took a leave of absence in July 1986. At the time of his retirement, he served at a Whiteville church.

He had recently been providing parishes in the Raleigh diocese with help when pastors went on vacation.

Dioceses around the country established protocols of how to handle abuse allegations after a scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic Church in the United States after revelations came out that priests in several dioceses sexually abused children and then subsequently protected by church officials after allegations surfaced.

Burbridge suspended another priest, Rev. Edgar Sepulveda, in early January after Sepulveda was arrested in and charged in Brunswick County with second-degree sexual offense and misdemeanor sexual battery charges. Sepulveda was a pastor at Maria Reina Parish in Mount Olive, Santa Teresa Mission in Beulaville and Santa Clara Mission in Magnolia.

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