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      Grand Blanc priest accused of inappropriate touching enters special program

      Fr. Ken Coughlin

      After being on paid administrative leave since May, Fr. Ken Coughlin, pastor of Holy Family Church, is taking a leave of absence. Fr. Coughlin faces allegations of inappropriate touching of students.

      In a letter to parishioners today, Fr. Coughlin continued to claim his innocence, saying, "My hope is that the investigation will prove what I know to be true, that I am innocent of anything criminal."

      In the letter he also says the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Lansing has asked him to, "Consider entering a program of assessment that assists clergy and religious with their ministry."

      Coughlin says he has agreed to the request.

      The case, meantime, is still being investigated by the Genesee County Prosecutors Office which, to date, has not filed criminal charges.

      The full statement from Fr. Ken Coughlin follows:

      Dear Parishioners,

      This period of time has been difficult for me and our parish. I appreciateyour prayers for me and all those involved. I have agreed to take a leaveof absence so that an investigation can occur regarding my conduct. Myhope is that the investigation will prove what I know to be true, that I aminnocent of anything criminal.

      However as this investigation has progressed, it has become clear thatsome of my words and actions have upset some people in our parish. Inresponse to these concerns, Bishop Boyea has asked me to considerentering a program of assessment that assists clergy and religious withtheir ministry. I have agreed to this request. We don't know at presentwhere this assessment will lead but it will help the bishop decide on thebest course of action for the future. The assessment program lasts abouta month or so.

      I ask that you continue to pray for me. Please know that all of you are inmy prayers. I love being a priest and look forward to returning to activeministry.

      Fr. Kenneth Coughlin, pastorHoly Family ParishGrand Blanc, MI