Portland, Maine, Diocese Removes Two Priests Who Admitted Sex Abuse of Minors

The Roman Catholic diocese removed two priests from their parishes Saturday after they admitted to sexually abusing minors two decades ago.

The priests will not be sent to other parishes, said Auxiliary Bishop Michael Cote, second-in-command for the Portland diocese, which covers the state. He spoke at the St. Agatha parish in northern Maine where one priest had been serving.

In a statement read to parishioners, Bishop Joseph Gerry wrote the revelations of priest abuse "leave us all embarrassed, humiliated and disheartened."

As part of a recent policy on disclosing such cases, the diocese said Feb. 10 that the Revs. Michael Doucette and John Audibert had each sexually abused a teen-age boy. The cases began 22 and 26 years ago, respectively.

At the time, the diocese said it moved the priests to other parishes because they had received treatment and evaluations determined they did not pose a threat to children.

In the letter read Saturday, Gerry wrote that another allegation of unwanted sexual advances was made against Doucette on Wednesday.

"The most recent allegation of misconduct has made it more difficult for the public to have confidence in both priests," Gerry wrote. "I have now concluded there would always be a cloud of possible future allegations."

The abuse did not occur in the priests' current parishes. Audibert was the pastor in Madawaska, and Doucette was the pastor in St. Agatha, Sinclair and Frenchville. They were placed on administrative leave, with interim pastors serving until permanent replacements are named.

The diocese said it will remove all priests with a "credible" allegation of sex abuse of a minor.

The diocese said it plans to implement a sexual abuse prevention program in all 135 Maine parishes this summer.