Priest who spoke at Sen. Kennedy’s funeral denies sex abuse

The Rev. Mark Hession was released on $2,500 bail Monday after his arraignment in Barnstable Superior Court.

Mourners including Jean Kennedy Smith, third from right, gathered at the funeral of Sen. Edward Kennedy in Boston, Aug. 27, 2009.
Mourners including Jean Kennedy Smith, third from right, gathered at the funeral of Sen. Edward Kennedy in Boston on Aug. 27, 2009. A priest who delivered the homily at Kennedy's funeral has pleaded not guilty to child sexual abuse. –Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest who delivered the homily at U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy’s funeral in 2009 has pleaded not guilty to child sexual abuse.

The Rev. Mark Hession was released on $2,500 bail Monday after his arraignment in Barnstable Superior Court in Massachusetts on two counts of rape, indecent assault and battery on a child younger than 14 and witness intimidation, the Cape Cod Times reported.

His passport was confiscated, and he was ordered to stay away from the accuser.

One of Hession’s attorneys, Joseph Griffin, declined comment when reached by telephone on Tuesday.

Hession was ordained in 1984 and served at nearly a dozen parishes in southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod.

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He is charged with assaulting a child on multiple occasions between 2005 and 2008, according to court documents.

Hession has been suspended from ministry by the Diocese of Fall River since 2019, after he sent what the diocese called “inappropriate communications to several adult parishioners.”

The diocese said in a statement last month that it is cooperating with law enforcement.

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