Saturday, May 3 2014 10:49 AM EDT2014-05-03 14:49:05 GMT
A 77-year-old former pastor of a western Michigan church has been convicted in the rape of two young relatives and inappropriately touching a third over a span of years.The Muskegon Chronicle reports thatMore >
A 77-year-old former pastor of a western Michigan church has been convicted in the rape of two young relatives and inappropriately touching a third over a span of years.More >
GRAND BLANC, MI (WNEM) -
Parishioners didn't want to comment about the allegations against their pastor Monday night as they were heading into the church, but the ones that talked to TV5 believe Father Coughlin is innocent and the truth will prevail.
"I think what's going on here is very, very shameful," said Melissa Jablonski, parishioner.
Jablonski was one of hundreds parishioners who attended the private town-hall style meeting at Holy Family Catholic Church Monday night.
They were hoping to learn more about the controversy hovering over the parish. Their pastor, Father Ken Coughlin, has been accused of inappropriately touching two students on their legs and hands.
The diocese of Lansing released a letter to all parishioners stating the Michigan Office of Child Protective Services has been notified and an investigation has begun.
Director Michael Diebold said Father Coughlin maintains his innocence.
"Denied that there was anything inappropriate in his behavior and at this time he is on paid administrative leave from the parish pending the results of the investigation," Diebold said.
Father Coughlin was appointed pastor in June 2007. He heads a parish of more than 6,000 people which includes a pre-school through eight grade school of roughly 500 students.
The attorney representing Father Coughlin sent TV5 a statement stating they are cooperating fully, but ask people not to rush to judgement as they believe Father Coughlin with be vindicated.
The Parishioners Monday night believe in their pastor.
"We have a really faith based family here at Holy Family and we're strong, and we are very prayerful so we will come together and pray over the truth," Jablonski said.
The state said an investigation could take up to 30 days to determine if Father Coughlin will be vindicated or if it will be handed over to the prosecutor's office.
Copyright 2014 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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