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Dominica priest defrocked

A Roman Catholic priest in Dominica has been “defrocked” almost two years after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against him.

Msgr Reginald LaFleur, who has been a Roman Catholic priest for over 30 years, was issued the decree by Bishop of Roseau Gabriel Malzaire on November 6, 2014.

The 60-year-old priest was put on administrative leave almost two years after a woman alleged that he touched her inappropriately on her “bottom and breast” and made “sweet eyes” at her 19 years ago when she was a 12-year-old parishioner. The woman made the accusations against Lafleur in a series of letters to Bishop Gabriel Malzaire, the head of Dominica’s diocese.

Malzaire had sent the accuser to Trinidad & Tobago for counseling as a local church panel investigated her allegations.

In a statement, Bishop Malzaire stated, “You are aware of the allegations that were brought against Msgr Reginald LaFleur almost two years ago. After a Diocesan preliminary investigation, the case was forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which has exclusive competence in these matters. The Congregation having reviewed the case authorized the Diocesan Bishop to proceed with an Administrative Penal Process.”

He continued, “The accused cleric was duly informed of this process and invited to take part by leading a defense either personally or through his advocate. Two canonists from outside the Diocese were invited as assessors of the evidence gathered. Because the accused cleric had not answered to the invitation to participate in the process, and in an attempt to preserve the right of defense, another canonist from outside the Diocese was invited to lead a defense on behalf of the accused cleric.”

“After forwarding the judgment of the assessors and the canonist who led the defense on behalf of the accused to Rome the Congregation of the Faith authorized that the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state should be imposed on the accused cleric. The accused cleric was informed of the decision and the imposed penalty on November 6, 2014. He was also informed that he had 60 days in which to appeal the decision to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

Bishop Malzaire in an interview said the matter was “difficult” for him and has caused him and the church “much pain.” (dominicanewsonline)

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