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Catholic Church Suspends Philadelphia Priest

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest in Philadelphia who was previously cleared of inappropriate conduct has been suspended due to new allegations of sexual abuse, church officials said Monday.

The accusations, which involve minors and date back about 30 years, first surfaced last spring, according to the archdiocese.

The Associated Press is not naming the 56-year-old priest because he has not been criminally charged. He could not be reached for comment on Monday.

The cleric was first placed on leave in March 2011 for allegedly violating standards of ministerial behavior and boundaries, church officials said. A subsequent investigation found him suitable for ministry.

But new allegations were reported in May as he prepared to return to a Philadelphia parish. The archdiocese said it immediately reported the claims to law enforcement; church officials later suspended the priest a second time.

The priest was ordained in 1982 and has spent his career in the Philadelphia area, according to the church.

He was among 26 clerics placed on administrative leave last year while officials investigated claims of sexual abuse or inappropriate conduct.

Seven of those priests have since been barred from ministry, while six have been allowed to return. One priest died before a full investigation could be conducted.

Twelve cases, including this one, are still under review.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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