FALL RIVER — Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., this weekend (November 2-3, 2019), informed parishioners and priests of the Diocese of Fall River that two priests have been placed on administrative leave from active priestly ministry. This comes as a result of information gathered during an external review of the Diocese’s personnel files. The information relates to alleged misconduct, said to have occurred decades ago, that requires further investigation.
The priests placed on leave are Father Richard E. Degagne, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Easton, and Father Daniel W. Lacroix, co-pastor of St. Joseph-St. Therese, St. Mary, and Our Lady of Fatima Parishes in New Bedford. The priests will remain on leave pending further investigation of both cases of alleged misconduct by external investigators. The misconduct alleged of Fr. Degagne is said to have occurred before he was a priest. Both priests have denied the alleged misconduct. These matters have been referred to the Bristol County and Cape & Islands District Attorney’s Offices.
Parishioners of the parishes where these priests serve were informed of this in a letter from Bishop da Cunha that was read at all weekend Masses.
The Diocese of Fall River placed the priests on leave based on information from an external review of the Diocese’s priest personnel files, announced earlier this year. In addition to this review, Bishop da Cunha has instituted a host of revamped practices and procedures to ensure the safety of parishioners of the Fall River Diocese especially children and young people, as well as to foster healing in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
“Nothing is more important than the welfare of survivors, children and our community at-large,” said Bishop da Cunha. “We have pledged to handle all matters of abuse in a pastoral and professional way and have implemented many new reforms since 2017. I continue to pray for anyone who has been affected by the scourge of sexual abuse.”
In addition to instituting the external review, the Diocese established a revamped Safe Environment Enterprise to re-structure and strengthen all child protection programs and protocols and create more effective policies and processes for handling allegations and the survivors of abuse impacted by them. The Diocese has hired former law enforcement officials and a social worker to oversee it.
Anyone with information or concerns that they wish to raise regarding the conduct of any past or present member of the Diocese, is encouraged to contact the Bristol County or Cape & Islands District Attorney’s Offices, or the Diocese of Fall River, Office of Safe Environment at 508-985-6508 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.