Bishop decides not to wait for Vatican before releasing names

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PORTLAND – The leader of Maine’s 234,000 Roman Catholics on Saturday publicly identified six priests accused of sexual abuse out of concern that they could commit offenses while waiting for the Vatican to complete its investigation.

Bishop Richard Malone’s original policy was to wait until a judgment from the Vatican before releasing the names of those accused of abuse before June 2002. But he became worried that there could be more victims during the drawn-out process.

“I am unsure how long it will be before all our cases are resolved,” he said in a statement. “This being the case, I have become increasingly concerned about the possible risk of re-offense in the cases of those who have not been publicly identified.”

Speaking at St. John Parish in Bangor, Malone released the names of 12 priests, six of whom he had not previously identified.

Of the six, the Vatican already ruled in the cases of Peter P. Gorham and Francis Kane. Both priests are 79 years old and in ill health. In both cases, the Vatican made their removal from the ministry permanent and assigned them to a “life of prayer and penance.”

Malone identified the other four as:

• George W. Beaudet, 67, who was accused in 2000 and was removed from ministry that year because of alleged abuse dating to 1979. Beaudet resides in Maine.

• Frederick A. Carrigan, 72, who was first accused in 1991. He was removed from the ministry in 2002 after being accused of abuse dating to 1972. He lives out of state.

• Michael L. Plourde, 56, who was accused by two minors in 1994 and was removed from ministry that year. He lives in Maine.

• Ronald N. Michaud, 60, who was accused in 1989 of offenses that took place in Maryland. His last known address was in Maine.

Their hometowns were not released, and they could not be reached immediately for comment. The other six previously identified priests were Thomas Lee, Jim Michaud, John Harris, Michael Doucette, Marcel Robitaille and Raymond Melville.

Critics accused Malone of waiting too long to release the priests’ names. They also said the bishop needs to go further in identifying them by releasing their hometowns so parents can protect their children.

“Kids cannot be safe until the names and whereabouts of all of these guys are made public,” said Paul Kendrick of Cumberland, a frequent critic of the church’s handling of priest sex abuse allegations.

Kendrick said there are still at least 18 or 20 priests who’ve been accused of abuse but who have yet to be identified.

Since June 2002, all priests accused of sexually abusing minors have been publicly identified under a discipline plan adopted by U.S. bishops. But Malone did not immediately release the names of those priests for whom there was a credible allegation before then.

Malone said Saturday that he became concerned that there could be additional victims while awaiting word from the Vatican. That scenario unfolded when a priest whose name had not been released by the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., was arrested on new charges of raping a boy in Syracuse, N.Y.

“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,” he said.

Malone apologized to those who have been harmed by priests and other church representatives. “That includes first and foremost the sexual abuse victims, their grieving families and all the people of God who have been traumatized by the scandal” he said.

The state coordinator for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said Malone needs to release all information about all accusations once and for all. “No more dribs and drabs,” said Harvey Paul of Windham.

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