January 29, 2005

Priest resigns over sex act accusation

Boston Globe

By Kathy McCabe, Globe Staff | January 29, 2005

SWAMPSCOTT -- The Rev. Jerome F. Gillespie resigned yesterday as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Swampscott after he was accused of asking a 12-year-old girl and her mother to perform a sex act at an Italian restaurant in Chelsea Tuesday night.

''Father Gillespie's resignation was accepted in the interest of all parties involved and does not represent any indication of Father Gillespie's guilt or innocence as it pertains to this allegation," the Archdiocese of Boston said in a statement late yesterday. Gillespie did not return a call placed to the parish yesterday.

The Globe reported yesterday that the Suffolk district attorney was seeking the 55-year-old priest in connection with the allegation that he propositioned a girl and her mother. The archdiocese said it learned of the matter Thursday night.

His resignation stunned parishioners at this North Shore church overlooking the sea.

''My own 13-year-old daughter just served Mass with him last Sunday," said Daniel Santanello, 46, a father of three. ''This is the last thing I would have expected to hear of him. . . . I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but this is a very serious situation."

Gillespie took over as pastor July 1, replacing the Rev. Thomas Sheehy, who retired. Gillespie was formally installed the Sunday after Thanksgiving in a Mass that drew hundreds of parishioners.

Posted by kshaw at January 29, 2005 06:51 AM