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Retired Fargo priest banned from public ministry after abuse investigation

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FARGO — A retired priest accused of sexually abusing a teen in the 1970s has been banned from public ministry following an internal investigation by the Diocese of Fargo, a spokesman said Thursday, June 18.

The victim, who spoke to The Forum anonymously in June of 2019 , alleged that Father Jack Herron groped her and made inappropriate advances in the rectory of Saint Anthony of Padua, located south of downtown Fargo. She was about 15 or 16 years old at the time, she said.

After she reported the allegations to the diocese in March 2018, a diocese advocate accompanied her to report the claims to the police.

"When the allegation was first received, it was referred to law enforcement. The canonical investigation and review by the diocesan review board is complete," the Diocese said in a news release. "It was determined that Father Herron would not have faculties to engage in public ministry," the release continued.

The Diocese did not indicate whether or not Herron would be added to its list of credibly accused sexual abusers. In January, the Diocese released a list of 31 priests, deacons and non-ordained individuals whom the diocese believes have been credibly accused.

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Herron was a parochial vicar at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Forks and served as a priest in Knox, Maddock, Fillmore, Bremen, Fessenden and Michigan, N.D. He also was a full-time military chaplain outside the Diocese of Fargo from 1989 until his retirement in 2017. He is currently living at a private residence, the release stated.

Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over three years, primarily reporting on business news. He's also the host of the InForum Business Beat podcast, which can be streamed at InForum.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Reach him at tevanella@forumcomm.com or by calling 701-241-5518. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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