ST. LOUIS (AP) — A longtime Roman Catholic priest who served several St. Louis-area parishes has been defrocked over what the Archdiocese of St. Louis called “credible” abuse allegations.

The archdiocese said the Rev. LeRoy Valentine has been permanently removed from ministry due to abuse that occurred in the 1970s but only recently came to light. The archdiocese did not elaborate, and an archdiocesan spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.

The announcement of the defrocking of Valentine, 71, was first made last week in the archdiocesan newspaper. Archbishop Robert Carlson said in a statement that the abuse claims were substantiated by an independent advisory board.

“Sexual abuse of a minor is a sin and a crime,” Carlson said in the statement. “Today we pray for the healing of victims of abuse and for the safety of all children everywhere.”

Valentine’s whereabouts were unknown, and no telephone listing could be found.

Valentine was ordained in 1977 and served eight parishes within the archdiocese. He has been accused before of sexual misconduct with minors, first in a 1995 lawsuit and again in 2002. The archdiocese said it found no credible evidence in either case.

Still, Valentine resigned as associate pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Florissant after the 2002 allegation and has not been involved in active ministry since.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, criticized the archdiocese for allowing Valentine to remain a priest in the years since his resignation.

“Three archbishops Justin Rigali, Raymond Burke and Robert Carlson evidently felt Valentine was too dangerous to work in parishes,” SNAP executive director David Clohessy said. “But for 11 years, they left Valentine free to live on his own with no supervision or monitoring at all.”

The archdiocese urged anyone with information about other potential cases of abuse to contact the archdiocese, Missouri’s child abuse hotline or police.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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