February 12, 2006

Kennebunk priest cleared of abuse charge

Portland Press Herald

By ELBERT AULL, Portland Press Herald Writer

A Kennebunk priest was cleared of allegations of sexual misconduct and returned to his parish Saturday, officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland said.

The Rev. Laurent Laplante had been on paid administrative leave since early December, after a high school student claimed the priest touched her pants on her knee and inner thigh six years ago.

The diocese did not find enough evidence to conclude the incident occurred, and the investigation yielded no other allegations of misconduct, said Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the diocese.

Laplante, 74, returned to his position as pastor of St. Martha's parish, which he has held since 1995, and Bishop Richard Malone told parishioners about the results of the investigation at Saturday afternoon Mass, Bernard said.

The diocese told the girl and her family Thursday, Bernard said.

"They were very cooperative through this whole thing. . . . We've worked on this cordially," she said.

Posted by kshaw at February 12, 2006 08:06 AM