The Medford Transcript reports that the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts has stripped a retired Medford pastor of his priesthood after investigating allegations that he sexually abused women during his time as rector.
Robert M. Durkee, now 85 years old, served as pastor of Grace Episcopal Church on High Street from 1964 to 1989.
In January, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts received a complaint against the former rector, alleging that he engaged in sexual misconduct with a woman in 1980.
“It’s my understanding that two additional, possible victims came forward just within the last day or two,” said Tracy Sukraw, director of communications for the Diocese.
After receiving the complaint in January, the church suspended Durkee from any and all priestly duties on Feb. 3. He was officially removed from the priesthood on March 27.
Church procedures call for the diocese to report such allegations to local authorities. Medford police are now investigating the allegations, the Transcript reported.
“Everything is very much in the initial stages,” Police Chief Leo A. Sacco told the local paper, of the investigation.
Detective Patricia Sullivan of the Medford Police Department is investigating the case. She has 20 years of experience investigating domestic assault and sexual violence cases.
“For those who knew him [Durkee], it was very hard news and emotions, as you can imagine, were all over the place,” said Grace Episcopal Church Pastor Rev. Noah Evans.
Evans said less than 20 percent of the Grace Church community today knew Durkee as their pastor.