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Philly archbishop removes 5 priests from ministry over sex abuse or misconduct allegations

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May 4, 2012: Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput reads his statement during a news conference in Philadelphia. Chaput announced that five priests were deemed unsuitable for ministry because of substantiated allegations of sexual abuse or other inappropriate conduct. (AP)

The Archbishop of Philadelphia has removed five priests from ministry over allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct. 

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced the removal of the priests, who were deemed "unsuitable for ministry" in a statement released to parishioners Sunday. 

One of them, the Rev. Michael A. Chapman, had been cleared of a prior abuse allegation in May 2012 by an archdiocesan review board. However, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a new accuser had come forward with allegations against Chapman dating back 30 years. The paper reported that the board had substantiated the new allegations against Chapman and placed him back on administrative leave.

"At no time was he ever returned to active ministry," the statement from the archdiocese read. 

In addition to Chapman, two of the other four priests were removed for violating "the standards of ministerial behavior." Both men faced sexual misconduct allegations that the board said it could not substantiate. The other two were deemed to have acted in violation of church standards. The Inquirer reported that such misconduct can range from making inappropriate comments to so-called "boundary violations."

Two other priests have been cleared to return to their positions after the board said it could not substantiate any allegations against them. 

The seven priests involved in this weekend's decisions are among a group of 26 who were suspended by the Archdiocese in the aftermath of a 2011 grand jury report that accused the archdiocese of failing to act on credible allegations of child sex abuse and other misconduct. Of the two who have not been dealt with by church or legal authorities, one -- the Rev. Andrew McCormick --  is awaiting trial on charges of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy, while the other unidentified priest has a case pending before the review board after law enforcement officials declined to prosecute him. 

Click for the story from The Philadelphia Inquirer

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