Pastor cleared of sexual abuse charge, returns to church

CARL RUSSO/Staff file photoThe Rev. Peter Gori, pastor of St. Augustine’s Parish, in a letter to parishioners denied allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor 30 years ago.

ANDOVER — The Rev. Peter Gori has been reinstated as pastor of St. Augustine Church, the Archdiocese of Boston announced Monday.

He is expected to resume his duties by Sunday – which is Palm Sunday – according to Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston.

Gori, a member of the Order of St. Augustine since 1973, was placed on administrative leave in April 2019 after a man, now in his 40s, claimed that he and another priest, the Rev. William Waters, sexually abused him more than 30 years ago.

“I assure you, as I assured the provincial, that the accusation is false,” Gori wrote in a letter to parishioners when the allegation surfaced. The provincial, the regional leader of Augustinian priests in the eastern U.S., had informed Gori of the accusation.

The Augustinian order relied on an independent investigator, Praesidium Inc., as well as the order’s independent review board in concluding the allegation could not be substantiated, according to a press release issued by the Archdiocese of Boston.

The alleged dates of abuse did not coincide with Gori’s assignment history and the alleged victim, who could not recall details of the abuse, declined to continue participating in the investigation, according to the archdiocese.

“I am pleased that the independent investigation has been completed after a thorough review of the facts,” O’Malley said. “The church’s commitment to achieving a fair and just resolution is of critical importance in respecting the rights of all the parties involved. Father Gori has enjoyed over 40 years of ministry as an Augustinian and in the Archdiocese of Boston. We join the parishioners of St. Augustine in welcoming Father Gori home.”

Gori said every allegation of sexual abuse must be taken seriously.

“Most priests live good and faithful lives. In my 40 years of priestly ministry, I have tried to live a good and faithful life,” Gori said. “I am very happy to return to my parish home of St. Augustine. I have missed parish life and our wonderful parishioners. I am grateful to be able to begin with the promise of Easter at hand. Please pray for all victims of sexual abuse as they seek to heal and pray for our priests who serve the people of God joyfully.”

Gori was appointed pastor of St. Augustine in 2009. He was also assigned there from 1988 to 1992.

Gori was raised in Reading and attended Austin Preparatory School, which is run by the Augustinians, in that town. He had assignments in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York and Rome before his first stint at St. Augustine.

Gori earned a doctorate in canon law and served on the Metropolitan Tribunal of the archdiocese.

He could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

Waters was also placed on leave. He was assigned to several Merrimack Valley parishes before being transferred to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Terrence Donilon, secretary of communications and public affairs for the Archdiocese of Boston, said Monday evening he was not sure about Waters’ status.

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