Complaint filed against Nova Scotia priest

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CBC News

Posted: Feb 16, 2012 5:20 PM AT

Last Updated: Feb 16, 2012 6:26 PM AT

The priest who has spoken for the Diocese of Antigonish in recent years is the subject of an unspecified complaint.

A criminal investigation is underway into an unspecified complaint against Father Paul Abbass — who runs Talbot House — a men’s addiction and rehabilitation facility outside Sydney, Cape Breton Regional Police confirmed Thursday.

The complaint was related to an employee of Talbot House, police said.

It is not known if the employee was the source of the complaint.

The complaint against Abbass is in his capacity as executive director, a position he’s held for 17 years. It was filed with the Department of Community Services.

“The board is not going to comment on the nature of the complaints in fairness to everyone concerned,” said John Gainer, chair of the Talbot House Board.

“What we can be committed to is that the alleged complaint will be properly reviewed for everyone’s benefit, including Father Abbass and the residents of Talbot House, the community, we need to adhere to a proper process,” he said.

Abbass was asked Feb. 3 by the board to step aside until the investigation was completed, Gainer said.

The Diocese of Antigonish released a statement Thursday saying it would fully co-operate with Talbot House and the department.

“We will act with the welfare of everyone in mind,” said Bishop Brian Dunn in a release. “For the complainant, that means being listened to and having their allegations investigated thoroughly. For parishioners, that means keeping them informed and providing avenues for discussion and dialogue.”

“For Father Abbass, it means a fair, timely and thorough investigation to find the truth.”

Talbot House has received additional clinical support from the Cape Breton District Health Authority, so Gainer said the board is confident the welfare of the 14 men at Talbot house is secure.

Abbass has been the voice of the diocese through the scandal involving Bishop Raymond Lahey and the sale of church properties to satisfy a settlement with victims of sexual abuse by priests.

“It is always difficult to hear about complaints against priests, but we must encourage that complaints be be investigated thoroughly and the truth be determined,” Dunn added.

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