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Priest In Sex Cases Agrees To Quit His Lincoln Post

Dec 3, 2002 | Sacramento Bee The Rev. Vincent Brady, who was suspended in June amid allegations of sexual abuse, has agreed to resign effective immediately as pastor of his Lincoln parish.

In a move that angered many parishioners, Bishop William K. Weigand asked for the resignation, saying he was concerned how the "unresolved situation" was affecting the priest and his parish.

A brief statement by Weigand announcing the resignation was read at weekend Masses at St. Joseph parish and released Monday by the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento. After the service, a short statement was handed out on behalf of Brady, who has served the diocese for 35 years.

Weigand, leader of the Sacramento area's 500,000 Catholics, said he believes the resignation is in the best interest of St. Joseph and Brady.

"It has become apparent to me that this situation will not be resolved quickly, so after much prayer and deliberation, I have asked Father Brady to resign," Weigand said in a two-paragraph statement read by diocesan officials.

Church officials declined to comment further.

Although Brady has been removed from active ministry, he remains a priest. His status with the diocese is unclear.

The bishop's words did not go over well with St. Joseph parishioners. Many believe their priest is innocent. About 70 people have held daily meetings since June to pray for Brady.

"They made him resign even though he has not been found guilty of anything," said Jim Hobbs, 74. "This is not justice."

In his own short message, Brady did not mention the investigation.

"It is with a heart that is filled with sadness and a hand which is trembling that I sign the letter of resignation as pastor of St. Joseph parish," he wrote. "Never in my worst nightmare did I imagine that our relationship would end this way."

Other than his statement to parishioners, Brady declined to comment.

The embattled priest was removed from his duties following a second allegation of sexual misconduct.

In 1999 Brady was accused of molesting Susan Hoey-Leeswhen she was a child more than 25 years ago, while he was pastor of St. Vincent Ferrer in Vallejo. Brady denied the charges. Hoey-Lees sued the diocese and received a $350,000 confidential settlement that has since become public.

The second accusation, from a woman alleging Brady molested her more than 25 years ago, surfaced in June. Her name has not been made public. Prosecutors in Solano County, where the incident allegedly occurred, declined to press charges after reviewing the complaint.

For nearly a year, the Catholic Church has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals. The nation's bishops have adopted a policy that would, among other things, remove from ministry a priest who had abused a child, establish lay review boards, and require all church workers and volunteers to attend educational workshops about sexual abuse.

In an interview last month, Weigand said there would be a "zero-tolerance" policy toward priests who have sexually abused minors in the Sacramento diocese.

In April, the Rev. Michael Walsh was placed on a leave of absence after allegations surfaced that he had sexually abused two minors more than 25 years ago. The diocese settled both cases out of court for approximately $35,000 each.

Walsh was no longer serving as a priest but was working as communications coordinator for the diocese. He moved out of St. John Vianney parish in Rancho Cordova after angry parents learned of the allegations.

Brady was the only active priest in the diocese who had been accused of sexual misconduct with minors, Weigand said in an interview last month.

He also said that the second allegation against Brady was being "reviewed and investigated very carefully" by the church and he was waiting for a recommendation from the diocese's recently established lay review board.

The board has finished its review and made a recommendation regarding Brady to the bishop, said Robert Puglia, chairman of the independent review board. Puglia declined to say what that recommendation was.

But in his statement Monday, Weigand said the allegations against Brady are still under investigation.

Parishioners say they still have questions and concerns regarding Brady. So far, they say, diocesan officials have told them little, citing possible litigation.

"I'm sure he would not have resigned without a direct order," said Elaine Sanovich of Lincoln Hills. "He's innocent, he loves the church and he loves the ministry."

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