Accused Vermont Priest May Have Been Reassigned

05/30/02 12:00AM



(Host) An official with the Catholic Diocese of Burlington said today that in one instance a Vermont priest may have been moved from one parish to another due alleged sexual impropriety. The Reverend Wendell Searles' comments came after the Vermont attorney general indicated that some priests may have been reassigned because of allegations against them. Searles says that may have happened in one case years ago, but church officials can't be sure:

(Searles) "I was very much a part of the process over the past many weeks of dealing with searching the personnel files. I did not do it personally, we had someone neutral do that. We cannot be certain of this, but it appears that there may have been one back in the 1970s."

(Host) Searles says the priest in question has not been active since the late 1970s. Thursday night on VPR's Switchboard, Attorney General William Sorrell was asked if he has seen any indication that the Catholic Diocese in Vermont moved priests from parish to parish because of allegations against them.

(Sorrell) "That's a tough question. And you would have to ask church officials why some priests were moved from one church to another. I will say that from the information that was turned over to us, it appears that in some cases, there were allegations brought to the attention of the diocese, and this was quite some time ago, and the priest was moved."

(Host) Sorrell and the diocese have declined to identify any priests who have allegations against them or to specify what the alleged incidents involve.
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