Retired city priest removed from ministry following abuse allegation

March 17, 2008

The Sun Chronicle


ATTLEBORO - A retired priest from Holy Ghost Church in Attleboro has been removed from the ministry following allegations of improper sexual assault dating back to the late 1970s, the Diocese of Fall River announced today.

The Rev. Bento R. Fraga has denied the allegations, but in accordance with diocesan and U.S. bishops' policy he has been stripped of church "faculties."

That means he is not allowed to minister as a priest, live in housing affiliated with a parish or live at a priests' retirement facility.

Although Fraga retired as a pastor in June 2005 and is not assigned to any parish, he has been living at St. Anthony Parish in Taunton, where he frequently assisted.

Allegations against Fraga were reported to the Fall River Diocese in January and were turned over to the Diocese Review Board for investigation, the diocese reported.

After a full investigation, the board found the allegations credible, the Diocese reported.

The accusation is a single claim of sexual misconduct with a minor that allegedly occurred in 1979 at a private residence. At the time, Fraga was serving as pastor of Holy Ghost.

A letter from Bishop George Coleman explaining the removal of Fraga from the ministry was distributed at Masses last weekend at all parishes where he has been assigned since his ordination in 1956.

The diocese has reported the allegations to the Barnstable County District Attorney's Office.