Portland diocese reveals name of Old Town parish priest.

PORTLAND (AP) – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland on Monday identified a priest who participated in sexually explicit e-mail exchanges on a now-defunct Web site for gay clergy.

The Rev. Normand Richard of Holy Family Parish in Old Town is the third current or former Maine priest to be linked to the St. Sebastian’s Angels’ Web site, which was shut down in 2000.

Diocese spokeswoman Sue Bernard confirmed Richard’s involvement after a co-founder of the Maine chapter of a Catholic reform group named him over the weekend.

That revelation came three days after the Rev. John Harris, who created the Web site, took a leave of absence from Our Lady of the Lakes Parish in Oquossoc. Harris’ departure followed allegations of nude swimming and hot-tubbing with minors in the 1980s.

Antonin Caron, another ex-priest who was acquitted in 1993 of a sexual misconduct charge involving a young woman, has also been linked to the Web site.

The Catholic reform group Voice of the Faithful has been calling on the diocese to name the third Maine priest involved with the Web site.

Paul Kendrick, a co-founder of Voice of the Faithful’s Maine chapter, said he uncovered Richard’s identity by cross-referencing an e-mail address on the Web site with a current e-mail list of Maine priests.

An e-mail message from Richard contained a reference to a relationship nine years earlier with a deacon under his supervision, Kendrick said. The diocese spokeswoman added that Richard was suspended and sent away for treatment after diocese officials learned of the relationship.

The priest was disciplined but not suspended in 2000 for his involvement with the Web site, Bernard said.

Richard was on vacation Monday and unavailable for comment, according to a secretary at his church.

AP-ES-09-08-03 1413EDT



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