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Diocese chided for its silence over 1994 abuse arrest: The Church of England Newspaper, March 11, 2011. March 10, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Massachusetts.

The Rev. Franklin Huntress, Jr.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Diocese of Lincoln failed to inform the Diocese of Massachusetts that one of its priests had been arrested for child abuse while serving as a vicar in Skegness.

The Rev. Franklin E. Huntress, Jr., relinquished his priestly orders rather than face a church trial last month after the Diocese of Massachusetts began an investigation into charges the 77 year old retired priest had molested a child in 1974.

During the course of its investigation, the diocese learned Mr. Huntress had been arrested by police for abusing a child in 1994 while service as vicar of St. Matthew’s Church in Skegness, Lincs.  No charges were filed against the American vicar as the family did not want the child to testify in court.  However, church investigators concluded the allegations were true after reading the police report and speaking to the officers involved, said Canon Mally Lloyd, the Bishop of Massachusetts’s assistant.

Confronted with the charges, Mr. Huntress resigned his orders, and was formally removed from the priesthood on Feb 11 by Bishop Thomas Shaw SSJE of Massachusetts.

However, the Director of Communications for the Diocese of Massachusetts told The Church of England Newspaper “there is nothing in the records here indicating that the Diocese of Massachusetts was contacted by either civil or church authorities in England regarding the 1994 charges there.”

Ordained in 1962, Mr. Huntress served parishes in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and in the UK.  From 1965 to 1967 he served at St. Mary’s, Chester, from 1967-1971 at Waltham Abbey in Essex, from 1975 to 1979 at St. Gabriel’s Abbey in Leicester, and from 1991 to 1994 at St Matthew’s in Skegness.

Following his return to the US, he served in a part-time capacity at churches in the greater Boston-area.  The Diocese of Massachusetts turned over the records of its investigation of the 1974 incident to prosecutors in the US, but no action was taken by police as the statute of limitations had been tolled.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Lincoln confirmed that Mr. Huntress “had been arrested and charged in 1994 on accusations of abusing a minor when he was serving in England. However it appeared that these charges were dropped and the detail and the circumstances were unclear.”

Diocesan spokesman Will Harrison stated that “when the request for further information from the Diocese of Massachusetts was received the former Diocese of Lincoln file had been destroyed as part of a previous archive policy. The Diocese of Lincoln then liaised with the statutory authorities to find a way forward.”

He stated that Mr. Huntress asked the Lincolnshire Police to release their file on his arrest to the Diocese of Massachusetts.  “The Diocese of Lincoln was then informed that he was removed from the priesthood in the USA and the Diocese therefore notified the national church authorities in case he moved back to the UK.”

Mr. Harrison added the “Diocese of Lincoln takes all allegations of abuse seriously and works with the statutory authorities to establish the facts.  Our thoughts and prayers are, as ever, with the victims.”

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