March 25, 2005

Salem priest relieved two-year ordeal is over

Salem News

By Tom Dalton
Staff writer

The phone call came Monday morning. Bishop Richard Lennon was on the other end of the line, and he was calling to say that it was over: After 26 months, the Rev. Edward Keohan had been cleared.

"I felt like the world had been lifted off my shoulders," said Keohan, 73, the former administrator of St. Mary's Italian Church in Salem. "I just felt relieved and thankful to the good Lord for helping me get through this difficult time. And thankful to the archbishop. Even though it took some time, as they say, the truth does come out."

Until Monday, Keohan had been living under the dark cloud of the priest sex abuse scandal. He had spent more than 40 years in the priesthood, had run the Salem church for 16 years and had been a chaplain at Salem Hospital, but none of that seemed to matter.

He had been accused.

In January 2003, a Gloucester man filed a civil complaint alleging that Keohan had fondled him and slept naked with him between 1981 and 1983, when the priest was stationed at a church in Chelsea. In August of that year, Keohan was put on "voluntary leave" by the Archdiocese of Boston.

Since then, the alleged victim was paid a settlement by the archdiocese, according to his lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian.

At the same time, however, a church review board investigated the allegation in what it described as a "careful review" of the case. On Tuesday, the archdiocese said that it found no evidence to support the claim and announced that Keohan would be returned to active ministry. Asked about the decision, Garabedian said his client refused to testify before the church board.

Posted by kshaw at March 25, 2005 08:33 AM