Lawyer Defends Accused Priest

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(Host) The lawyer for one of priests under investigation by the attorney general has released details of allegations against his client. Middlebury Attorney Peter Langrock says the information shows his client has not engaged in any impropriety.

Langrock says the allegations against the Reverend Donald Ward of Vergennes date back roughly 13 years. He says Ward was in central Vermont at the time and that he would take a group of boys from the church for a swim at a local athletic club.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) According to Langrock, the Bishop received two letters from parents whose children were uncomfortable undressing in the same room with Ward. Langrock says the letters were sent to the Bishop on the same day.

(Langrock) “It was the first time the two children had gone swimming. And one came home and told the mother. And she talked to another mother and they wrote letters to the Bishop.”

(Zind) Langrock says in response to the letters, the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services conducted an investigation of Ward and found no grounds for action. Ward is one of six priests placed on administrative leave by the diocese while the attorney general’s investigation is underway.

Reverend James McShane of Rutland has also confirmed that he is one of the priests under investigation. The names of the remaining four priests placed on leave are not known. Both the Diocese and the attorney general’s office have declined to reveal their identities

Meanwhile, Vermont Catholic Charities says it plans to set up a phone bank on May 30 and June 10 to take calls from the public on sexual misconduct by the clergy.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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