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Accused Priest An Apparent Suicide

A 64-year-old priest who resigned from his parish in Connecticut amid allegations of sexual misconduct apparently killed himself Thursday at a Catholic psychiatric hospital, church officials said.

The Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., identified the priest as the Rev. Alfred J. Bietighofer, who was stripped last month of his priestly powers and ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation.

Two men told diocesan officials Bietighofer abused them when they were boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s, church officials said.

Bietighofer was found hanged in his room Thursday at St. Luke Institute, according to Prince George's County police and hospital officials.

"I am profoundly saddened by the tragic death of Father Alfred Bietighofer," Bridgeport Bishop William Lori said in a statement. "To parishioners and to all those whom Father Bietighofer assisted during the course of his priestly ministry, I extend my sincere sympathy and prayers."

Bietighofer was assistant pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Bridgeport when he resigned April 29.

"The allegations from the two gentlemen were credible enough to warrant immediate action, in line with our policy," Lori said at the time the priest resigned.

Church officials did not report the allegations against Bietighofer to authorities, but said they would cooperate if asked for information.

Bietighofer had served in the Bridgeport diocese since he was ordained in 1965, except for two yearlong stints in Peru in the 1970s and 1980s.

More than 100 priests have been dismissed or resigned across the country since the sex abuse scandal engulfing the Roman Catholic Church erupted in Boston early this year.

Last month, a priest in Ohio shot himself to death after being accused of molesting a girl. And on Monday, a priest was shot and seriously wounded outside his Baltimore home by a man who accused him of abuse nine years ago.

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