EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 8, 2013

Former Derry priest leaves post after allegations

By John Toole
jtoole@eagletribune.com

---- — DERRY — An allegation of sexual abuse dating to the late 1980s in St. Thomas Aquinas Parish has forced a Franciscan priest from his college administrative post in Pennsylvania.

The Rev. Michael Ledoux, 55, never admitted doing anything wrong and has said he was innocent as recently as last week.

But when confronted with the possibility of an investigation into the matter by his superiors at Widener University last summer, Ledoux resigned his post, Widener spokesman Dan Hanson said yesterday.

“He was told he would be placed on administrative leave, pending the investigation,” Hanson said. “He chose to resign.”

The university’s inquiry started after Widener received a tip about Ledoux’s past.

The allegation was first reported a decade ago to New Hampshire church officials by Boston attorney Carmen Durso, representing a man who accused Ledoux of abusing him in St. Thomas Aquinas Parish when he was a teenager.

“There was a civil claim,” Durso said. “My client’s first concern was that this guy didn’t do this to anyone else.”

Diocese of Manchester spokesman Kevin Donovan said the matter was referred to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.

Ledoux had left New Hampshire and was no longer serving in the diocese at the time. He also was then under the supervision of the New York-based Franciscan Province of the Immaculate Conception.

Durso and Jim Geoly, the Chicago attorney who represented the Franciscan religious order, said the case did not lead to prosecution, but ended in a settlement.

“We had an amicable resolution,” Geoly said.

Durso said the head of the Franciscan order told the alleged victim upfront that he was sorry for what happened and wanted to know how things could be made right.

The understanding was that Ledoux would not work with young people, Durso said.

The Franciscans barred Ledoux from practicing priestly duties, including saying Mass.

“He wasn’t supposed to do any ministry,” Geoly said.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, reporting the story over the weekend, said Ledoux is now living at a Franciscan facility in New York. He refused to discuss the matter with the newspaper, but maintained his innocence.

“He never admitted doing it,” Geoly said.

Hanson said Ledoux served nine years at Widender and there were never allegations of sexual misconduct against him there.

“There were no allegations or any hints of any improper activities at Widener University,” he said.