Police drop probe into complaint against C.B. priest

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The Halifax Chronicle Herald

13 April 212- 5:22pm

By EVA HOARE Staff Reporter

Police have dropped their investigation into a complaint against Rev. Paul Abbass (right), who headed up a rehabilitation centre for addicts in Cape Breton. (LAURA FRASER / Staff / File)Police have dropped their investigation into a complaint against Rev. Paul Abbass (right), who headed up a rehabilitation centre for addicts in Cape Breton. (LAURA FRASER / Staff / File)

UPDATED 5:44 p.m.

A high-ranking member of the Catholic Church in Nova Scotia accused of misconduct is no longer under investigation by police.

Late Friday afternoon, Cape Breton Regional Police issued a news release saying they would not pursue any further investigations about an unnamed employee for Talbot House, an addiction treatment facility in Frenchvale.

“Based on the information (from) our investigation, there was no grounds to pursue criminal charges,” police department spokeswoman Desiree Vassallo said in an interview.

Vassallo would not reveal the subject of the investigation, but Rev. Paul Abbass confirmed in an email to The Canadian Press that he was the person being investigated, and that police have ended the probe.

Several sources had previously told this newspaper the employee was Rev. Abbass, executive director of Talbot House for 17 years.

A complaint had been made to the provincial Community Services Department, which oversees Talbot House.

Abbass was relieved of his duties shortly after news of the complaint broke. He also stepped down as parish priest of St. Mary’s Catholic Church on the Talbot House grounds and was relieved of his duties as episcopal vicar and director of pastoral services for the Diocese of Antigonish.

He was not immediately available for comment Friday.

Vassallo would not reveal why detectives, who did not take their review to a full investigation, decided not to continue. She would only say there wasn’t enough to go ahead at this time unless new information came forward.

“There never really officially was an investigation. Information came to our intention and we were looking at it further to see if there was anything to pursue. There was nothing there.”

She also could not say whether police made the decision alone, or in concert with Crown attorneys, who normally provide investigators with advice on whether to proceed with charges.

The review started in mid-February after police received a complaint, Vassallo said.

Archbishop Anthony Mancini appointed Abbass in 2009 to serve as spokesman for the diocese after police charged former bishop Raymond Lahey with importing child pornography.

Earlier that year, Lahey had helped to negotiate a $15-million class action settlement with an estimated 80 victims who said priests had sexually abused them in parishes throughout Nova Scotia between 1950 and 2009. That number of alleged victims has since risen dramatically.

As spokesman, Abbass had been front and centre in addressing church issues, including the sale of church-owned property to help pay off the $15-million lawsuit settlement.

(ehoare@herald.ca)

With files from The Canadian Press

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