Four priests agree to voluntary suspensions
BOSTON -- The archdiocese of Boston announced Saturday that four priests had taken voluntary leaves of absence in response to allegations of sexual misconduct with minors.
The archdiocese, in a prepared statement, said Archbishop Sean Patrick O'Malley met with the four priests individually and asked them to step aside until the allegations are investigated and resolved.
The four priests are the Rev. John Chaisson, pastor of St. Adelaide Parish, Peabody; the Rev. Edmund P. Charest, administrator of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Cambridge; the Rev. Edward Keohan, administrator of Our Lady of Lourdes in Revere; and the Rev. Edward Sherry, pastor of Nativity Parish in Merrimack.
In each case, the archdiocese said, the allegations stem from incidents that allegedly occurred decades ago and have not arisen within the priests' present assignments.
"All this was done in a spirit of openness and with a desire to protect children and maintain a situation that is respectful to all parties," the archdiocese said. It said the leaves of absence should not be seen as a sign of guilt, but an attempt to protect all parties and ensure due process.
A statement from the archdiocese did not specify where or when the alleged incidents took place. A call to Rev. Christopher Coyne, the spokesman for the archdiocese, was not immediately returned.
Seth Horwitz, a spokesman for Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley, said he was not aware of any investigations involving any of the four priests.
A message left for Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett was not immediately returned.
A crisis over allegations of sexual abuse by priests has wracked the Boston archdiocese and shaken the church worldwide.
Attorney General Thomas Reilly last month closed a grand jury investigation, estimating that clergy members and others in the Boston Archdiocese probably sexually abused more than 1,000 people over a period of six decades.
The church has already paid out millions in settlements to alleged victims. And it is currently trying to settle lawsuits from 542 people who say they were abused.
Under pressure over his handling of sex abuse allegations, Cardinal Bernard Law resigned in December. Newly-appointed Archbishop Sean O'Malley is trying to settle the cases.