Accused paedophile priest dies in Martinique

Accused paedophile priest dies in Martinique

Said to have molested two dozen children

Monday, January 10, 2011

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FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique (CMC) — A defrocked American priest who left the United States 17 years ago after he was accused of molesting two dozen children in New Mexico and three other states has died here.

Joelle Louisor, a hospital administrator at the Pierre Zobda Quitman hospital, on Friday confirmed Laurence Brett's death. He was 73.

Louisor said the ex-priest died on Christmas Eve. She said she did not know the cause of death, but reports in the United States say Brett had fallen down some stairs and hit his head.

After he was accused of having sex with a Connecticut teenager in 1964, Brett was sent to the Servants of the Paraclete, a treatment centre for troubled priests in Jemez Springs, according to US reports.

But after he was released and assigned to an unnamed New Mexico church, he was accused of seeking sex from a 10-year-old boy in a rectory bedroom, reports indicate.

In 1993, Brett was suspended as a priest after other accusations arose in California and Maryland. He disappeared from his home in Baltimore, where he taught at a parochial high school, as paedophile priests became national news.

Santa Fe, California, Archbishop Michael J Sheehan in 2002 admitted that the church hired private investigators in the 1990s to look into the accusations against Brett.

"This was not an effort to discredit victims," Sheehan said. "It was an effort to find out more information, so we could deal with the misconduct that was alleged."

In 1997, the Bridgeport, Connecticut diocese settled a lawsuit brought by Frank Martinelli, a Connecticut man, who claimed that Brett molested him in the 1960s.

In 1999, Baltimore, Maryland authorities said they had obtained two warrants for Brett's arrest. But they said they were subsequently vacated because the statute of limitations had expired.

Authorities in Connecticut and other states also said they did not try to prosecute Brett because the statutes of limitations had also run out.

In 2002, Brett was living in a villa beside a lagoon in St Maarten, where he identified himself as a writer, a businessman and a CIA agent. Soon after his whereabouts became public, Brett vanished again, according to US reports.

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