Church pastor resigns after allegedly propositioning mother, daughter

Associated Press/January 29, 2005

The pastor of a Roman Catholic church here has resigned after he was accused of propositioning a 12-year-old girl and her mother at an Italian restaurant in Chelsea on Tuesday night.

The Rev. Jerome F. Gillespie resigned on Friday as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Boston.

"Father Gillespie's resignation was accepted in the interest of all parties involved and does not represent any indication of Father Gillespie's guilt or innocence as it pertains to this allegation," the statement said.

Gillespie, 55, did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press left at the parish on Saturday morning.

The archdiocese said it learned of the matter on Thursday night.

David Procopio, a spokesman for the Suffolk District Attorney's Office, told The Daily Item of Lynn that Gillespie was not dressed as a priest and was sitting at a separate table from the alleged victims, who did not know Gillespie was a priest.

Gillespie would be summoned to Chelsea District Court to answer charges of child enticement, soliciting sex for a fee and annoying and accosting a person of the opposite sex, Procopio said.

Gillespie replaced the Rev. Thomas Sheehy on July 1, and was formally installed the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Andrea Kelly, a religious education teacher at St. John, said she hopes the charges against Gillespie are a misunderstanding.

"I'm hoping he'll be exonerated," she said. "I've seen him with kids and if you've ever seen him interact with the kids, you'd know there is goodness there."

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