removes Millville priest accused of abuse
Kathleen A. Shaw
TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
July 18, 2003
WORCESTER- Bishop Daniel P. Reilly has removed the Rev. Jean-Paul
Gagnon from his pastorate at St. Augustine parish in Millville
and placed him on administrative leave.
This is the eighth priest Bishop Reilly has removed and placed
on leave since allegations of sexual abuse involving priests
in the Worcester Diocese began surfacing last year. Five of
those pastors recently tendered their resignations so the
bishop could appoint permanent replacements.
Rev. Gagnon had been on personal leave since October when
a civil suit was filed against him alleging that he sexually
abused Timothy P. Staney of Worcester. Rev. Gagnon has denied
the allegations in court documents filed with Worcester Superior
Rev. Gagnon's status was changed by the bishop Wednesday.
He said he did not want the parish to be ""spiritually
burdened." He recently assigned the Rev. Robert A. Loftus
to give priestly assistance to the parish and Deacon William
J. Lucier was appointed temporary parish administrator.
The bishop said the change in status "came in the course
of the ongoing investigation" by the Diocesan Review
Committee and the bishop's office.
"Father Gagnon will not be engaging in any public ministry
in this diocese or elsewhere. In keeping with our policy,
we have cooperated fully with the district attorney's office
in their investigation of the allegation made against him
dating to the mid-1980s," the bishop said.
Bishop Reilly said he has been meeting with parish leadership
and staff of the Office for Healing and Prevention and has
met with parishioners to offer assistance and support. He
officiated at a Holy Thursday service there in April.
"I ask for your prayers and support for all involved
in this matter and their families. Please pray for the parishioners
of St. Augustine parish, whom Father Gagnon has served since
1996. In charity, I also ask for your prayers for Father Gagnon
and his family during this time," the bishop said.
"It's way overdue," Mr. Staney said yesterday.
Mr. Staney said he believes placing Rev. Gagnon on leave "speaks
to my credibility.
"Even before my case came on the horizon, there was
ample information dating back many, many years which should
have justified this action," he said. Mr. Staney alleged
in his lawsuit that he was first sexually abused by Raymond
Tremblay, a religious education teacher at Holy Name of Jesus
parish, Worcester, starting at age 9 and then was abused by
Rev. Gagnon after he revealed the abuse to him during confession,
which is a sacrament of the Catholic Church.
Bishop Reilly beginning last year placed on leave the Rev.
John J. Bagley of St. Mary, North Grafton; the Rev. Raymond
P. Messier of St. Francis of Assisi, Athol, and St. Peter,
Petersham; the Rev. Chester J. Devlin of St. Bernadette, Northboro;
the Rev. Gerald P. Walsh of St. Roch, Oxford; the Rev. Joseph
A. Coonan of St. John Worcester; the Rev. Peter J. Inzerillo
of St. Leo, Leominster; and the Rev. Lee F. Bartlett of Sacred
Heart, Worcester. All but Rev. Inzerillo and Rev. Coonan have
resigned their pastorates.
Rev. Inzerillo, who was an associate pastor, had already
resigned as pastor and Rev. Coonan's alleged offenses occurred
before he was ordained and, while he is still on leave, he
has not resigned.