January 29, 2005

Official on leave as abuse is alleged

Portland Press Herald

By JOHN RICHARDSON, Portland Press Herald Writer

A Florida school district suspended an assistant principal this week after being told that he is accused of sexually abusing a student at a Catholic school in Biddeford more than 35 years ago.

The Manatee County School District placed Joseph Gilpin, assistant principal of Haile Middle School, on paid administrative leave Wednesday afternoon, minutes after the superintendent got a call about the allegation from the leader of a group that supports victims of abuse by the clergy.

The school district plans to investigate the report before deciding whether permanent action is warranted, said Margi Nanney, the district's spokeswoman. Gilpin could not be reached Friday.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland confirmed that a former student at the St. Mary's School came forward with the allegation in September 2003. The diocese forwarded the information to law enforcement agencies, although the statute of limitations to bring criminal charges had already expired.

After checking into the report, the diocese has offered to pay a settlement to the victim, said spokeswoman Sue Bernard.

Bernard did not disclose details of the complaint, which has not been settled. No other allegations have been made in Maine against Gilpin, she said.

Gilpin was a teacher at St. Mary's, which is now closed, from October 1967 to June 1968, Bernard said. The diocese then sponsored him to go to the Roman Catholic seminary in Ottawa. He was dismissed from the seminary after a year, she said, for reasons unrelated to any abuse allegations.

Posted by kshaw at January 29, 2005 06:23 AM