Church: Accusations against Maine Priest Unproven

February 19, 2011

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine's Roman Catholic Diocese says that sexual abuse complaints against a priest stemming from the 1980s have not been proven.

The Rev. Thomas Lee was removed from the ministry in 2004. At the time of the alleged abuse, he was serving a parish in Boothbay Harbor.

In 2008, a church tribunal consisting of three priests determined the accusations were not proven. Bishop Richard Malone appealed that decision.

The Diocese announced Saturday a church appeals court confirmed the tribunal's findings, but it also agreed that Lee acted imprudently with minors. The Diocese says based on that conduct and on circumstances surrounding the case, Malone has decided to continue not allowing Lee to serve any public ministry in the church. Any possible exceptions will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

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