A Roman Catholic priest who served as a youth minister in Avondale and Tolleson is being investigated in Indiana for alleged sexual misconduct with children.
The Diocese of Phoenix confirmed Wednesday that the Rev. Paul LeBrun has been removed from his duties in Indiana while authorities investigate accusations against him by several men that he sexually abused them when they were boys.
“We are always saddened to learn of allegations against any priest,” said Kim Sue Lia Perkes, spokeswoman for the Phoenix diocese.
“It certainly took us by surprise. We had no idea until we were contacted by (LeBrun’s superiors in Indiana) that there were these kinds of allegations against Father LeBrun.”
LeBrun, a member of the Holy Cross order with a master’s of divinity from Notre Dame, has spent most of his 20-year career in Indiana. However, in 1986 he transferred to Arizona, where he served as a youth minister at St. John Vianney Church in Avondale and Blessed Sacrament Church in Tolleson, Perkes said.
In July 1990, he became the full-time youth minister at Blessed Sacrament; he returned to Indiana in 1993.
“We had no indications that there were any problems while he was here,” Perkes said. “According to a priest who served with Father LeBrun here, he was very good at his job.”
The Diocese of Phoenix is one of many across the country under investigation for its handling of allegations of sexual abuse directed at priests and other diocesan employees.
Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley on Tuesday complained that Phoenix church officials were not cooperating fully, which the officials denied.
Perkes on Wednesday encouraged any Valley residents with allegations of abuse against LeBrun to contact the proper civil authorities.