Local Priest Accused of Sexual Misconduct Will Return to Church

February 13, 2011

[with video]

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse has been cleared of any wrongdoing after a 10-month investigation and will return to the church, Bishop Robert Muench said on Saturday.

"No sufficient evidence could be found to substantiate or corroborate the claim," Muench said. "He is coming back as pastor of St. Thomas More Church."

Father Tom Duhe of St. Thomas More Catholic Church on Goodwood Boulevard was suspended in April of 2010 after a man, now in his 20s, accused the priest of sexually abusing him more than a decade ago when he was between 12 and 15 years old.

Muench said the complaint was the only one made against Duhe. The alleged incident did not take place while he was pastor of St. Thomas More Catholic Church, the bishop said.

A team of five investigators -- including a psychologist, social worker, attorney, and members of several law enforcement agencies -- interviewed both the accuser and the priest and found no wrongdoing, Muench said.

The bishop spoke to the St. Thomas More Catholic Church congregation Saturday evening's mass to announce that Duhe will return by the end of the month or the beginning of March.

"I announced to them the results of the conclusion of the independent review board and my decision to reinstate Father Duhe," Muench said. T"he congregation spontaneously rose in applause."

Muench said the church took this claim -- like all other claims of sexual abuse -- seriously. He said he supports the investigative team's decision.

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