Names of accused priests released

Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram/January 28, 2007
By Trevor Maxwel

Maine Bishop Richard Ma-lone on Saturday released the names of four Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse, whose cases are still pending with church courts in Rome.

The priests already had been removed from ministry prior to 2002, but their names and the allegations against them had not been disclosed.

Malone has recommended laicization for all four, meaning permanent removal of all rights and duties as a priest.

They are George Beaudet, 67, who served at nine parishes until being removed in 2000; Frederick Carrigan, 72, who served at seven parishes until removal in 2002; Michael Plourde, 56, who served at nine parishes until removal in 1994; and Ronald Michaud, 60, who served at five parishes until removal in 1989.

The announcement marked a change in church policy by Malone, who is head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and spiritual leader of the state's 234,000 Catholics.

The bishop had waited to release names of accused priests until receiving a final decision by the Vatican.

But Malone said on Saturday the process was taking longer than expected.

"I have become increasingly concerned about the possible risk of re-offense in the cases of those who have not been publicly identified," Malone said in a statement, released at a news conference in Bangor. Malone noted a case in Delaware, in which an accused priest who had not been named publicly was arrested on a charge of sexual abuse in October.

"I am now convinced that the time has come to release the names of the remaining priests who were removed from ministry due to abuse allegations, whose offenses were admitted or sufficiently established," Malone said.

Fourteen other dioceses and archdioceses nationwide have adopted similar policies, said Sue Bernard, a spokeswoman for the diocese.

Paul Kendrick was not satisfied with the disclosures, and he continued to call for Malone's resignation. Kendrick helped found Ignatius Group, which advocates for abuse victims. His and other groups want the diocese to release the names and addresses of all priests and church workers facing credible abuse charges.

Kendrick asked why Malone didn't release the four names earlier if the men might be capable of additional offenses.

"When he leaves people like Michael Plourde in neighborhoods full of kids, when he won't say the whereabouts of these people, and parents have no idea about these men with substantiated abuse charges against them, he is putting kids at risk," Kendrick said of Malone.

Basing his conclusions on a report released by the state Attorney General's Office in 2004 and on information from families and communities, Kendrick said he believes around 20 priests and religious and church workers facing credible charges have not been identified publicly.

Kendrick was planning a rally and leaflet drop this morning in front of St. Joseph's Church in Biddeford, where Michael Plourde once served as a priest. Kendrick said Plourde was living recently in an apartment complex near the church.

Also Saturday, Malone announced the Vatican has made final rulings in the cases of two other accused Maine priests.

Peter Gorham, 79, and Francis Kane, 79, both were assigned a life of prayer and penance, which is generally applied to people who are very old or in poor health.

Gorham was accused in 1995 of an offense from 1953. He retired in 1996.

Kane was accused of abuse in 1986, his ministry was limited in 1987, and he retired in 1997.

Malone provided updates on three cases that previously had been made public.

The Vatican has granted a request for a canonical trial by Thomas Lee, who stepped down from ministry in 2003.

In the case of Jim Michaud, the diocese has no proof of sexual abuse, but Bishop Malone decided Michaud should not have public ministry because of other misconduct.

Lastly, John Harris agreed with Malone's recommendation that Harris step down from ministry, although no victims of sexual abuse came forward during an investigation by the diocese.

Malone said the diocese previously reported all of the priests to civil authorities.

The church court process in Rome is a way to make rulings in cases that cannot be prosecuted in criminal courts, because too much time has passed.

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