NH--He’s left the Catholic church but is now Unitarian minister
For immediate release: Friday, Dec. 4, 2915
Ousted predator priest is cleric in another denomination
Victims want church officials to warn the public about him
He’s left the Catholic church but is now Unitarian minister
A New Hampshire priest who was ousted because of credible allegations of child sex abuse has apparently been a minister for years at a rural New Hampshire Unitarian church.
Fr. Mark Fleming now heads South Parish Unitarian in Charlestown, NH (603 826 3418)
SNAP was notified recently of Fleming’s position by a New Hampshire man who suspected that the cleric wasn’t being fully honest about his past. Fr. Fleming did disclose to at least a few individuals that he’d been a Catholic priest.
“This is an outrageous betrayal that should never have happened,” said Rob Brown of Manchester, an abuse victim of a different predator. “I suspect that Unitarians didn’t properly vet this guy or they didn’t tell their flock the full truth about him.”
In 2002, Fr. Fleming was accused, in a civil lawsuit, of sexually abusing three brothers in the 1980s. The case went to the NH Attorney General's office but it was not prosecuted. Catholic officials said that Fr. Fleming was not defrocked but his right to minister was reportedly revoked and he was sent to therapy for two years. Then, he reportedly left priesthood in 1986.
“Shame on Bishop Peter Libasci and his predecessor, Bishop John McCormack, for refusing to do more to warn the public about Fr. Fleming,” said David Clohessy of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “And shame on Unitarian officials for ordaining him and giving him access to kids.”
Brown and Clohessy are urging Catholic and Unitarian officials in New Hampshire to use church websites and parish bulletins and pulpit announcements to warn others about Fr. Fleming.
“Having let this predator be near kids, the least these church officials can and should do is use their resources to alert unsuspecting families, neighbors and congregants to keep their kids away from him.”
South Parish is a small congregation. Its president is Joyce Davidson and its contact person is listed as [email protected].
In 2002, under intense public and parishioner pressure, the Manchester Diocese released a partial list of accused predator priests. It did not include Fr. Fleming because they claim they thought he had died.
Fr. Fleming’s victims were represented by New Hampshire attorney Mark Abramson. In one case, Fr. Fleming held a boy under water in an apparent display of his power, Adamson said.
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