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Alleged sex abuser priest, who led Milton center, leaves priesthood

Posted by Johanna Seltz  August 24, 2010 10:10 AM

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The Catholic priest who headed a Milton residence for clergy with sexual abuse and other problems -- and who himself was accused of sexually abusing a minor -- is no longer part of the priesthood, according to the Archdiocese of Boston.

Robert P. Beale, 69, who now lives in Stoughton, asked to be "removed from the clerical state," and the request was approved by the Holy See, the archdiocese said in a press release.

In a separate release, the archdiocese announced that Dennis A. Keefe, a Chelsea priest who was accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1995, also went though the voluntary process of leaving the priesthood.

Both Beale and Keefe, who had been on administrative leave, will no longer receive any financial support from the archdiocese and cannot "function in any capacity as a priest, with the exception of offering absolution to the dying," the archdiocese said. The two could not be reached for comment.

Beale was accused in 2002 of sexually abusing a minor in the 1970s, but the alleged crime was not prosecuted because the time elapsed had exceeded the statute of limitations.

Ordained in 1970, Beale had worked at St. Ann’s in West Bridgewater and parishes in Cambridge and Belmont during that decade. He worked at the now-defunct Our Lady’s Hall in Milton for 20 years, many of them as director of what was described as a rehab center for alcoholic and depressed priests and a transitional home for those accused of sexual misconduct. He was a member of the "Singing Priests," a group of clerics who perform to raise money for local charities.

Our Lady's Hall, a brick mansion on Highland Street built in the 1920s by the president of the New England Telephone and Telegraph Co., became notorious during the church’s sex abuse scandal when a youth asserted in a 2002 lawsuit to have been molested there.

The facility closed that year and the 12-acre estate was bought in 2003 by Milton developer Thomas Corcoran for $3.3 million. Proceeds of the sale went to a trust for the archdiocese’s clergy’s pensions and medical costs.

Corcoran tore down the mansion and subdivided the land for 10 homes, which sold for close to $2 million each, according to the town assessor’s records.

Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley used the announcement of Beale’s release from the priesthood to apologize.

"The conclusion of this process provides an important opportunity for me to again apologize for the crimes perpetrated by clergy and for the suffering so many members of our community have endured. I remain committed to providing pastoral care and support services to all who have been harmed by the tragic reality of clergy sexual abuse,” he said.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seelenfam@verizon.net.

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