Roman Catholic priest investigated on sexual abuse charges

WCAX TV, Vermont/September 9, 2006

St. Albans, Vt. -- A Roman Catholic priest who presides over a Lyndonville church is accused of sexually molesting a teenager.

Stephen Nichols of the Saint Elizabeth's Church will be charged with lewd and lascivious conduct Monday in Vermont District Court in Saint Albans, the Vermont Attorney General's office said Friday.

The attorney general's office has been investigating the matter for several months after the Roman Catholic Diocese received a complaint in August 2005 and did its own investigation.

Nichols had been given a leave of absence from the Lyndonville Church and Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Danville and from other duties.

Bishop Salvatore Matano will visit those churches on Sunday Sept. 24.

"I wish to express my deep personal concern for all who have been affected," Matano said Friday.

Neither the attorney general nor the diocese revealed further details.

The church is facing 19 cases of sexual misconduct by priests. In April, the diocese settled a priest sexual abuse case for $965,000.

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