Diocese suspends retired priest over child abuse allegation

January 27, 2020 GMT

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — A Roman Catholic diocese in Massachusetts has suspended a retired priest after a review of files found an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor dating to about 20 years ago, church officials said.

The Rev. Herbert T. Nichols is barred from all ministry while the allegation is under investigation, the Diocese of Fall River said in a statement on its website Sunday.

Nichols is not currently assigned to a parish, but has helped with Masses in several parishes since retirement in 2015, including with the Maronite community within the diocese, the statement said.

Nichols denies the allegation, the diocese said. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Nichols is the third retired priest suspended by the diocese over child abuse allegations this month.

He was ordained in 1975 and served in churches in Raynham, Fall River, New Bedford, Taunton, and Orleans.

“I understand that these recent announcements regarding the suspensions of priests are upsetting to our diocesan community of faith and often bring renewed pain to victims of sexual abuse especially victims of sexual abuse by clergy,” Fall River Bishop Edgar da Cunha said in the statement.