Plymouth priest denies sexual abuse allegation

The Patriot Ledger, Massachusetts/February 14, 2012

Plymouth -- The lawyer for the Rev. James Braley, a Plymouth priest accused of sexual misconduct, said his client "denies any wrongdoing whatsoever."

William Sullivan, a Quincy lawyer who represents the Rev. Braley, said the charge is "unsupported, inaccurate and untruthful."

The Archdiocese of Boston announced Sunday that the Rev. Braley, who has been the pastor of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in West Plymouth for a decade, has been placed on administrative leave. The archdiocese took the action after it received an allegation of sexual abuse of a child.

In its statement, the archdiocese said the allegation concerns conduct that took place in the early 1980s.

Ordained in 1975, the Rev. Braley served as chaplain at Archbishop Williams High School in Braintree from 1981 to 1986.

Sullivan said he has not been able to meet with investigators from the archdiocese to review the specifics, and only has "very general" knowledge of the allegation.

He added "given the timeline I was given, it does not involve Archbishop Williams."

School officials said in a statement Sunday that they were informed of the allegation against the Rev. Braley, but have not been told if it involves a student at the school.

The Rev. Braley's first assignment was at St. Peter parish in Cambridge.

Sullivan said the Rev. Braley "was shocked" to learn of the allegation.

"He's taking an aggressive approach to clearing his name," Sullivan said.

He said the Rev. Braley has been encouraged by the response he has received from parishioners who have contacted him.

"The support has been very gratifying," Sullivan said.

In August, the archdiocese released a list of 157 Catholic priests and two deacons who have been either confirmed or accused of sexually abusing children. Of the clergy who were named, investigators for the archdiocese have cleared 26 of the allegations.

More than 20 priests are on administrative leave pending investigation into sexual abuse allegations, according to the archdiocese's website. At least one has been on leave for more than a decade.

One local priest who twice faced sexual abuse allegations, the late Rev. Charles Murphy, was cleared of the charges both times. One investigation lasted two years, the other five months. The Rev. Murphy died in June.

In its statement Sunday, the archdiocese said it has notified law enforcement officials of the allegation and has initiated a preliminary investigation into the allegation.

The Rev. Braley will remain on administrative leave pending the outcome of the preliminary investigation.

"The decision to place Fr. Braley on administrative leave represents the Archdiocese's commitment to the welfare of all parties and does not represent a determination of Fr. Braley's guilt or innocence," the statement read.

"The Archdiocese will work to resolve this case as expeditiously as possible and in a manner that is fair to all parties," the statement said.

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