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Maine priest accused of abusing girl in the 1980s

July 5, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest who previously led youth retreats is on temporary administrative leave while the Diocese of Portland investigates an abuse allegation, officials said Monday.

Known as “Father Bob,” the Rev. Robert Vaillancourt is accused of sexually abusing a girl in the 1980s, the diocese said. He has denied any wrongdoing and is cooperating with an investigation, the diocese said.

Vaillancourt, 67, attended several of the late Pope John Paul II’s World Youth Day events and led Maine’s delegation to the event at least once, in 2002 in Toronto, the Bangor Daily News previously reported.

The Lewiston native has served at parishes across the state and is currently the pastor at St. Brendan the Navigator Parish, which serves churches in Belfast, Rockland and Camden on the mainland, along with island churches on Islesboro, Vinalhaven and North Haven.

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The diocese did not say where Vaillancourt was ministering at the time of the alleged abuse or other parishes where he served. A parish spokesperson was out of the office and unavailable on Monday.

It was not known if the priest had an attorney. Email and phone messages to Vaillancourt were not immediately returned.