2 priests suspended amid decades old abuse complaints

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Two retired Catholic priests in Massachusetts have been suspended amid separate allegations of sexual abuse.

The Diocese of Fall River said Sunday that Fathers James Buckley and Edward Byington have been accused of abusing minors decades ago.

The diocese didn’t specify the nature of the abuse other than to say they are separate, unrelated claims and have been referred to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.

Both priests deny the allegations, according to the diocese.

Buckley and Byington have not been assigned to a specific parish since their retirement, but have assisted in church services in various communities, the diocese said.

Buckley was ordained a priest in 1959 and retired in 2001 after serving in Fall River, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, according to the diocese.

Byington was ordained 1970 and retired in 2006 after serving in churches across southeastern Massachusetts and nearby Rhode Island.

The Diocese of Providence said Sunday it has also relieved Byington of his Rhode Island duties.

Church officials say anyone with information should contact one of the dioceses or the Rhode Island State Police.

Fall River Bishop Edgar da Cunha said his diocese remains committed to “resolving these matters in as fair and as transparent a process as possible and to ensuring the safety of all youth and vulnerable adults.”

(Copyright (c) 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)