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Ex-Top Catholic Official In New Hampshire Accused Of Misusing Church Money

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The leader of one of the nation's top clergy treatment centers resigned Monday over allegations involving an inappropriate adult relationship and misuse of church funds in New Hampshire, where he previously served in numerous leadership positions with the Diocese of Manchester.

Msgr. Edward Arsenault held several senior positions in New Hampshire from 1999 to 2009 before becoming president and CEO of Saint Luke Institute in Maryland in October 2009. In New Hampshire, Arsenault had been former Bishop John McCormack's top lieutenant, handling the clergy sexual abuse crisis and being responsible for the church's new child protection policies.

The diocese said Monday that it received allegations earlier this year regarding a potentially inappropriate relationship involving Arsenault. During its investigation, the diocese found evidence of improper financial transactions, and reported the matter to the attorney general's office.

In a statement, Bishop Peter Libasci said the diocese will cooperate fully with the investigation.

"I am committed to reviewing our internal diocesan operations to ensure that any issues are identified and corrected, as necessary," he said. "We will do this in the light of day."

Arsenault could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said investigators from her office met with both diocesan officials and representatives from Catholic Medical Center two weeks ago, and based on information they provided, decided to launch an investigation. The hospital sought an investigation because Arsenault did consulting work for the hospital in 2009 and 2010.

The investigation does not involve Saint Luke Institute, a prominent education and counseling center based in Silver Spring, Md., with sites in other parts of the United States and in Britain. The center treats priests with a range of mental illnesses and has played a key role in addressing the problem of sexually abusive clergy.

"This is very difficult news, and we are keeping this situation in prayer," interim CEO Sheila Harron said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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