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Archdiocese says priest can return to active duty

The Archdiocese of Boston has cleared a return to active ministry for a priest accused of sexually abusing a child, after a church review panel was unable to substantiate the allegations, an archdiocese spokesman said yesterday.

The Rev. Edward Sherry was placed on administrative leave in 2003 after a lawsuit was filed accusing him of sexually abusing a child about 30 years earlier.

A review board appointed by the archdiocese was ''unable to substantiate this claim after a careful review of the information available," said archdiocese spokesman Terry Donilon.

Sherry is allowed to return immediately to his old job as pastor at the Church of the Nativity in Merrimac, Donilon added. He is expected to celebrate Mass next Sunday.

The Rev. William Kremmell, who took over for Sherry two years ago, announced Sherry's reinstatement during Masses this weekend, according to Donilon.

Sherry was one of four priests placed on leave in 2003 in response to allegations of sexual misconduct with minors. Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley had met with the priests individually and asked them to step aside until the allegations could be investigated.

Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who represented several of Sherry's accusers, said his clients already have settled their claims with the archdiocese. They refused to participate in the review panel's investigation, he added.

''My clients simply didn't trust the process," he said. ''They weren't interested in participating in an investigation that was conducted by the Archdiocese of Boston, because it wasn't an independent investigation."

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