Today's Stories
For Friday, May 3, 2002
These are some of the stories you will find in the most recent issue of the Journal Tribune. These will be updated each day, Monday through Friday, by 6 p.m. Saturday's stories will be updated by 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Previous 5 Days Stories


Scandal touches St. James School
Teacher resigns after N.J. allegation

From staff and wire reports

BIDDEFORD - A teacher at St. James School has resigned after administrators confronted him about allegations of sexual abuse while he was a teacher's aide at a New Jersey boarding school 30 years ago.

William Sargent of Kennebunk, who had been teaching seventh grade since last fall, resigned Monday after being apprised of a New York Times article about sexual abuse allegations at the American Boychoir School in Princeton, N.J., said Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

St. James School front office workers directed all questions to the Chancellery in Portland.

The April 16 article said a dozen alumni from the 1960s to 1980s described a pattern of sex abuse at the New Jersey school by staff members, including Sargent. A former student was quoted as saying Sargent abused him in the 1970s.

Bernard said Sargent resigned immediately Monday afternoon after being shown the article. Sargent could not be reached for comment.

On Tuesday, the Rev. Renald Labarre, who oversees the school as pastor of St. Joseph Church, sent parents a two-sentence letter saying Sargent had resigned and been replaced by another teacher.

Labarre was overseeing funeral services this morning, and could not be contacted.

Brian Denger of Biddeford, whose daughter Rachel had Sargent as an English teacher, said he didn't know about the allegations against Sargent until two days after Labarre sent home the letter.

"I guess I am shocked, but not surprised, given what's happening with the Catholic church these days," Denger said.

Another parent, Christopher Robinson, said the first he heard about Sargent's resignation was on a television news broadcast Thursday night.

"There hasn't been any communication to parents about that yet," Robinson said.

Bernard said the diocese would send another notice today to parents of St. James students with more details of Sargent's resignation "so they can talk to their children if they deem it necessary."

Over 430 students in grades kindergarten through eighth attend Biddeford's only parochial grammar school.

Bernard said the school has notified the state Department of Human Services and York County District Attorney Michael Cantara about Sargent's resignation and the reasons surrounding it.

"We have given the information to them in case they need it," Bernard said.

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