Priest accused of sex abuse apparently commits suicide

Roman CatholicismChristianityHealthSocial IssuesDeathAbusive Behavior

A priest who resigned from his Connecticut parish last month amid allegations that he sexually abused young boys apparently committed suicide yesterday at a Catholic psychiatric hospital in Silver Spring that treats disorders including pedophilia, church and police officials said.

A nurse found the Rev. Alfred J. Bietighofer, 64, who had served in the Bridgeport Diocese since he was ordained in 1965, hanged in his room at the St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, hospital and church officials said. It was the second apparent suicide of a clergyman since the sex-abuse scandal engulfed the Roman Catholic Church.

Bietighofer voluntarily withdrew from his parish April 29 after two of the four men accusing him of abuse met with Bridgeport Bishop William Lori.

The men accused Bietighofer of abusing them in the 1970s and 1980s, when they were boys. Lori stripped Bietighofer of his priestly powers and ordered him to have a psychiatric evaluation.

"I am profoundly saddened by the tragic death of Father Alfred Bietighofer," Lori said in a statement. "To parishioners and to all those whom Father Bietighofer assisted during the course of his priestly ministry, I extend my sincere sympathy and prayers."

Bietighofer was chaplain of St. Joseph Medical Center in Stamford from 1982 to 1984, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in South Norwalk from 1984 to 1986, assistant pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Stamford from 1987 to 1988 and pastor of St. Mary Parish in Norwalk from 1988 to 1998.

The 21-year-old St. Luke Institute, which is on a 43-acre suburban campus, treats priests and nuns for problems ranging from alcohol and drug addiction to pedophilia. For years, its treatment regimen has been praised as one of the country's most rigorous for child abusers.

Last month, a priest in Ohio shot himself to death after being accused of molesting a girl.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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