Accused was making transition from St. Pius to parish work
July 15, 2010
By Kristy Nease, The Ottawa Citizen
The principal at St. Pius X High School from the early 1970s until 1984 — including the time when teacher Rev. William Joseph Allen is alleged to have assaulted two teenage students — said he was never made aware of any misconduct or suspicion of misconduct by the Catholic priest.
Msgr. Len Lunney said by phone Tuesday that when Allen left the school to assume duties at the Resurrection of Our Lord parish in 1975, Allen’s “involvement at the school was very limited.”
During Lunney’s early tenure, Allen had been making the “natural evolution” from teaching to increased parish work, Lunney said.
Allen, 80, was arrested Monday and released on conditions the same day. He faces three charges of indecent assault against two teenage boys at St. Pius X that allegedly occurred between 1970 and 1976.
The “repetitive” assaults took place on school property and church property and in private encounters, police said.
Lunney offered little reaction to the charges faced by Allen, a man he had worked with since the late 1950s.
“I don’t know. In life, I think as a philosophy … nothing ever surprises me,” Lunney said.
“I thought he was a fine fellow. That’s all I can say,” he said of Allen. “He was a good person, and a likable person.”
Lunney wouldn’t say whether Allen’s departure from the school was his own choice.
“As I say, it was a natural evolution. As the school got established, the role of the priests was to do parish work, not education,” Lunney said.
“I think the key word is ‘natural.’ It’s just nature itself,” the monsignor said. “You are ordained for pastoral work at the parish level in the pastoral situation. Schools are kind of an addenda to that, I suppose.”
In an Archdiocese of Ottawa media release, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the charges against Allen, whose health is failing. The priest had withdrawn from active ministry “a number of years ago.”
“I am confident that the judicial process will bring to light the facts and circumstances of these charges,” Prendergast is quoted as saying. “Justice must be done, and must be seen to be done.”