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Archbishop Chaput defends reputation of falsely accused priest

July 16, 2010

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver issued a statement on July 13 announcing that Msgr. William Higgins, a priest who died in 1967, had been falsely accused of the sexual abuse of a minor.

“More than a year ago a female plaintiff filed a complaint under the pseudonym ‘Jane Doe’ against Monsignor William Higgins,” said Archbishop Chaput. “Msgr. Higgins passed away in 1967, after more than five decades of loyal service in this archdiocese … Other than this single complaint made 42 years after Msgr. Higgins' death, no complaint has ever been advanced against this fine priest.”

Archbishop Chaput continued:

Through the litigation and the extensive discovery in the case, the archdiocese determined that the plaintiff's complaint was not credible and the charges made against Msgr. Higgins were groundless. The plaintiff has voluntarily dismissed all claims.

If Msgr. Higgins were alive today, he would be in good standing and able to minister in the archdiocese. False charges do inexcusable harm to a priest's good name, his reputation earned over years of service to others, and to the lay Catholic faithful and other dedicated priests. We are saddened that such a charge was made, but want you all to know that you can esteem Msgr. Higgins and keep him in your prayers as a righteous man.

As we work to ensure all people in the Archdiocese of Denver are safe, so too are we determined to defend the reputation of the many, many innocent good men and women who work in the archdiocese and give so much to others.


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  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Jul. 16, 2010 9:21 AM ET USA

    I am glad to live in the US, where an accused is presumed innocent until PROVEN guilty. It would behoove everyone to remember this when accusations are made. Abuse is a terrible crime; so is false accusation.