The pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Andover will return to active ministry and be reinstated to his post after an independent investigation found a nearly 30-year-old allegation of sexual abuse to be unfounded, the Archdiocese of Boston said Monday.
The Rev. Peter Gori is set to return to St. Augustine by Palm Sunday, following “a thorough and independent investigation” by “an independent investigator, Praesidium Inc.,” the archdiocese said in a statement.
Investigators worked with the Independent Review Board of the Augustinian Order of St. Thomas of Villanova, the religious order to which Gori belongs, in concluding that the allegation was unsubstantiated, the archdiocese said.
Investigators reported that the dates of the alleged abuse did not line up with Gori’s assignment history. According to the archdiocese, the alleged victim was unable to recall details of the abuse, and ultimately declined to participate further with the investigation.
Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney who had represented the alleged victim, withdrew from the case, according to the archdiocese. Garabedian said in an e-mail Monday night that he could not comment on the case until Tuesday.
Gori was placed on administrative leave nearly a year ago, after the alleged victim accused him of sexual abuse that dated to around 1991, when the alleged victim was a minor. The archdiocese said then that it had immediately notified law enforcement and the Augustinian Order.
On Monday, Gori said that all accusations of sexual abuse of children must be taken seriously, and that he has “tried to live a good and faithful life.”
“I am very happy to return to my parish home of St. Augustine,” Gori said in the statement. “I have missed parish life and our wonderful parishioners. I am grateful to be able to begin with the promise of Easter at hand. Please pray for all victims of sexual abuse as they seek to heal and pray for our priests who serve the people of God joyfully.”
Cardinal Sean O’Malley said he was pleased the investigation was complete “after a thorough review of the facts.”
“The Church’s commitment to achieving a fair and just resolution is of critical importance in respecting the rights of all the parties involved,” the cardinal said. “Fr. Gori has enjoyed over forty years of ministry as an Augustinian and in the Archdiocese of Boston. We join the parishioners of Saint Augustine’s in welcoming Fr. Gori home.”