Bishop Christopher Coyne, who leads the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, last week released the names of 40 priests who “had credible allegations of sexual abuse filed against them by victims who were under the age of 18 at the time of the incident.” Included in that list was Monsignor Edward J. Gelineau, who served as the pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Spear Street in Charlotte from 1976 to 1990.
Gelineau retired in June of 1990 and died in June of 2010. He taught confirmation classes (including those of this reporter) and other CCD classes over his 14 years with the parish. He was ordained as a priest in 1942 and served in parishes in Rutland, Fair Haven, Winooski, St. Albans and Burlington before finishing his career in Charlotte.
The list of abusers was compiled by an independent review committee appointed by the diocese that was made up of private citizens. Though the committee has no legal authority, they said in the statement released with the list, “Publication of names of the accused says to those quiet victims you are no longer alone—we recognize your pain.”
After reviewing personnel files of more than 52 priests who had complaints filed against them, the review committee found “credible allegations” in 40. In the report, they wrote, “We agreed ‘credible’ is defined as: An allegation, based on facts of the case, that meets one or more of the following thresholds: a) Natural, plausible and probable; b) Corroborated with other evidence or another source, or c) Acknowledged/admitted to by the accused.”
Father David Cray, the current pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, said that he was unfamiliar with the details of the report. “As an Edmundite who has spent all of my life outside of Vermont until coming to Charlotte (tomorrow will be my 16th anniversary!) I really don’t know any more than you do about this whole diocesan list,” he wrote in an email to The Charlotte News. As for addressing it within the congregation, he said, “I probably will read the names the priests involved in these parishes and some excerpts from Bishop Coyne’s cover letter.”
The committee decided to conceal certain details that could possibly identify the victims, including dates, locations and number of incidents that were reported for each priest. According to Vermont Catholic, which is the official publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, “Of the 40 priests believed to have been credibly accused, some faced criminal charges, others were sued in civil court. Some resolved abuse cases before any lawsuit. In other cases, the time to file criminal charges or civil lawsuits had expired.”
There is no indication that Gelineau was ever charged or convicted in relation to any sexual abuse case.