Priest resigns after being placed on leave by church

Associated Press/January 15, 2004

Richmond, Va. -- A Catholic priest convicted of assault and battery on teenagers in the 1970s resigned from the ministry Thursday, a church official said.

The Rev. John E. Leonard resigned from "active priestly ministry" and as pastor of St. Michael's Catholic Church in Glen Allen, the Rev. Pat Apuzzo, a spokesman for the Diocese of Richmond, said in a news release.

Leonard's resignation came after Cardinal William Keeler placed him on administrative leave.

"Father Leonard cannot carry out the functions of a priest with the administrative leave in place," Apuzzo said.

Leonard, 65, was convicted Tuesday in Goochland County on charges in connection with incidents in the 1970s when he was on the faculty of a boys' Catholic boarding school. He originally was charged with three felonies, but was convicted of misdemeanors under a plea agreement.

He is scheduled to be sentenced March 30. The prosecutor's office has recommended he be placed on probation indefinitely.

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