Priest Responds to Molestation Accusation

The Rev. George Spagnolia is breaking the silence among the ranks of active and retired priests caught up in the Boston Archdiocese's sexual abuse scandal.

The Boston Archdiocese removed Spagnolia from his duties as pastor of St. Patrick's Church in Lowell, Mass. on Friday, after a man accused the priest of molesting him 31 years ago.

Spagnolia has denied the accusation and he is criticizing Cardinal Bernard F. Law, the archbishop of Boston, for suspending him from his duties.

"He's gone from — the extreme of protecting his priests under the idea of protecting the church, OK, to now just giving us away and feeding us to the wolves with this zero tolerance," Spagnolia told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.

Spagnolia said he is part of a "feeding frenzy" that has resulted from the priest sex abuse scandal.

Spagnolia is the 10th priest, and fourth pastor, who has been removed from active duty by the archdiocese following an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

Spagnolia has been accused by one man who is not revealing his identity. The man, who is standing by his claim, told his attorney that he was 14 when the incident occurred. In a statement, the man's attorney said, "The victim reported the abuse to church officials solely to ensure that no other child would be hurt. This revelation to church officials is not the first time he revealed the abuse."

Several hundred parishioners crowded into St. Patrick's church on Monday to hear Spagnolia defend himself. The priest said he won't fulfill his pastoral duties at the parish until the matter is resolved.

Zero-Tolerance Policy for Abuse

In a statement released Monday, the archdiocese defended its decision, saying it acted only after meeting separately with the alleged victim and Spagnolia, and determining that there was reasonable cause to believe the abuse occurred.

The archbishop of Boston announced a zero-tolerance policy for abuse following reports that the archdiocese had moved John Geoghan, the former priest and convicted pedophile, between parishes regardless of the allegations against him.

Church officials have since turned over the names of 80 current and former priests accused of sexual abuse, some stretching back 40 years. Geoghan is serving a nine-to-10-year prison sentence for fondling a 10-year-old boy, and faces two more criminal trials and 80 lawsuits.

Spagnolia said he told Law in a letter that he will challenge the suspension under church law.

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