Accused Priest: I'm Innocent

President Bush, shakes hands with Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, leader of the Anbar Salvation Council, also known as the Anbar Awakening, during a meeting in Anbar province, Iraq, in this Sept. 3, 2007 file photo. Abu Risha was killed in a bomb attack Sept. 13, 2007.
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Breaking the silence that has come from the ranks of active and retired priests caught up in the Boston Archdiocese's sexual abuse scandal, a priest dismissed from duty last week has adamantly denied that he was involved in any abuse and demanded due process from the church.

"I have done nothing," the Rev. D. George Spagnolia slowly declared, followed by a rousing applause from supporters inside St. Patrick's Parish in Lowell. "I demand due process."

Spagnolia lashed out at Cardinal Bernard Law for the policy of reporting to authorities the names of current and former priests accused of abuse.

Law, following reports that the archdiocese simply shuttled defrocked priest and convicted pedophile John Geoghan between parishes despite allegations, last month announced a new zero tolerance policy and provided prosecutors with the names of 80 current and former priests accused of sexual abuse in the past 40 years.

Spagnolia became the 10th priest, and fourth pastor, removed from active duty by the Archdiocese of Boston following allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.

"I and many others believe that this policy is unjust and inherently evil in its implementation," Spagnolia said. "I cannot stand by mute and allow this injustice to continue unchecked."

Spagnolia said he wants his job and reputation back and called on the Middlesex District Attorney's office to "act with all speed."

The allegation against him was made Feb. 16, he said, and allegedly took place 31 years ago when he worked at a church in Roxbury. Law's office removed him from all assignments on Friday.

Spagnolia challenged Law to produce proof, such as minutes of a meeting, that his review committee investigated the claim before suspending him.

The archdiocese did not immediately return a call to comment.

A spokesman for the Middlesex district attorney could not confirm if Spagnolia was being investigated.

The prosecutor's office has a policy of not announcing a suspect's name until formal charges are made, spokesman Anson Kaye said.

Kaye did say that prosecutors have been stymied by the archdiocese's failure to turn over names of victims who have accused priests of sexual abuse.

"In order to evaluate these allegations we need to know the names of victims," Kaye said.

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