I-Team: Priest won't be monitored - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

I-Team: Priest won't be monitored

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NBC 10's I-Team has learned that a priest in Woonsocket who admitted to sexual abuse involving a 15-year-old boy in the 1980s won't be monitored or forced to register as a sex offender.

Monsignor John Allard was removed from duty this week at Precious Blood Church and St. Agatha's Church, both in Woonsocket.

But critics say that's not enough. Anne Barrett Doyle of Bishop Accountability, a nonprofit group that tracks publicly accused priests, said she believes Allard is still a risk to children.

"They suspend priests," Barrett Doyle said. "But who is going to monitor him?"

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence said in a statement that Allard took responsibility for his actions. But NBC 10 learned he won't be tracked or forced to register as a sex offender because of Rhode Island's statute of limitations.

For second-degree sexual assault, the window to file charges is three years. For third-degree sexual assault, the same limit applies. The abuse in Allard's case happened more than 30 years ago.

"We have an admitted child molester here. That's what we have. As a type, child molesters don't self-correct," Barrett Doyle said.

The diocese told NBC 10 there's no set program in place to monitor ex-priests who admit to molestation. A spokesman said free counseling is available, but not required.

Less than a year ago, NBC 10 reported on another priest at Precious Blood in Woonsocket who also admitted to child molestation. The Rev. Timothy Gorton was stripped of his rights to practice as a priest and forced to move out of the rectory.

Gorton's nephew, who was a victim, came forward to talk publicly about the abuse.

"If I don't do anything now, there's a chance these victims will suffer in silence for the rest of their lives," Jamie Wilkinson told NBC 10 in April 2012.

The diocese said the two priests working at the same church was a coincidence, noting that in both cases the abuse happened in other parts of the state.

But Barrett Doyle said she still finds it troubling.

"I get very concerned when I see that accused priests have worked together," she said.

Bishop Thomas Tobin released a statement following news of Allard's case, saying that "allegations of abuse, even if they occurred many years ago, are taken very seriously ... For the many who are affected by this heartbreaking news, I offer my prayers for healing and forgiveness."

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