Denver Prelate: Deceased Priest Cleared of Charges

Notes «Inexcusable Harm» Caused by False Allegations

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DENVER, Colorado, JULY 15, 2010 (Zenit.org).- A priest who died in 1967 should be remembered as a righteous man, says Archbishop Charles Chaput, since sexual abuse allegations made by a female plaintiff 42 years after his death have been proven false.

In a statement Tuesday, the archbishop of Denver explained that more than a year ago, a woman under the pseudonym «Jane Doe» filed a complaint against Monsignor William Higgins.

The priest served in the Archdiocese of Denver for more than 50 years and died in 1967, at age 77.

«Other than this single complaint made 42 years after Monsignor Higgins’ death, no complaint has ever been advanced against this fine priest,» the archbishop said.

Through the litigation and investigation, the plaintiff’s complaint was shown to be groundless. She «voluntarily dismissed all claims,» the prelate’s statement reported.

Archbishop Chaput added: «If Monsignor Higgins were alive today, he would be in good standing and able to minister in the archdiocese.

«False charges do inexcusable harm to a priest’s good name, his reputation earned over years of service to others, and to the lay Catholic faithful and other dedicated priests. We are saddened that such a charge was made, but want you all to know that you can esteem Monsignor Higgins and keep him in your prayers as a righteous man.»

The Denver prelate concluded with the affirmation that the archdiocese works both to ensure all people’s safety and to «defend the reputation of the many, many innocent good men and women who work in the archdiocese and give so much to others.»

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