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Priest faces church probe over sex claim

PUBLISHED: 12:54 07 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 March 2010

FORMER Ipswich priest Father Dennis Finbow is facing an internal investigation by the Catholic Church despite being cleared by police of an alleged indecent assault.

FORMER Ipswich priest Father Dennis Finbow is facing an internal investigation by the Catholic Church despite being cleared by police of an alleged indecent assault.

The 52-year-old, formerly of Rushmere, was suspended from his post at St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, St Neots, in Cambridgeshire, following his arrest on the sex charge in February.

The Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt Rev Peter Smith, has sent a message to Father Finbow's church, which will be read out at masses, confirming the internal inquiry.

It reads: "I'm sure many of you will be aware that following the police enquiry there will be no prosecution of Fr Dennis. However the Church's Pastoral and Procedural Guidelines (1994) require that 'while legal proceeding may not be pursued through the courts, there remains an obligation on the Church authorities to review the pastoral consequences of such a situation'.

"This review will be undertaken by the Diocesan Child Protection Team during the coming week. Fr Dennis is aware of this requirement and is very calm about it. He fully accepts that the Church's own Guidelines and Procedures must be followed in his own interests and those of everyone involved. In the meanwhile I ask you to keep him and all those concerned very much in your prayers."

The allegation related to an incident in Peterborough between 1979 and 1989.

Although Cambridgshire Police would not confirm Father Finbow was the man who had been arrested, a spokeswoman for the force said yesterday: "A 52-year-old man from St Neots who was arrested at home on February 16 on suspicion of indecent assault has been released by police with no further action.

"The decision was taken by police and the Crown Prosecution Service."

Father Finbow was ordained as a priest at St Pancras' Church in Tacket Street, Ipswich, in 1980.

The former Rushmere and Copleston school pupil is the international director of The Project for Bolivia charity, set up 11 years ago to help hundreds of street children in the country.

Many parishioners were said to have been in tears at the announcement of his suspension by the Church.

Two years ago the pipe-smoking, football-mad cleric who supports Ipswich Town, ran the London and Boston marathons on consecutive days.

Only last year the parish priest cycled more than 1,000 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats to raise tens of thousands of pounds for The Project for Bolivia.

One of five children, he had been a psychiatric nurse before taking his vows.

Before taking up his current post Father Finbow had previously spent eight years at Our Lady of Lourdes in Peterborough where he boosted the congregation from 200 to 1,000 in two years.

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