Oklahoma priest suspended following sexual misconduct claim

Fox 24

Undated photo provided by the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma, Father Joe Townsend. (Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma via AP)

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma has announced that a Roman Catholic priest was placed on administrative leave following an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a minor.

The diocese said in a statement Friday that the Rev. Joe Townsend is cooperating with a diocesan investigation and denies any misconduct.

The statement doesn’t indicate when the allegation was first made or when Townsend was placed on leave. It says the matter has been forwarded to law enforcement for investigation.

An announcement in April 2018 on priest appointments that was posted to the diocese’s website mentioned that Townsend was beginning a year-long sabbatical. He was ordained in 1988.

The diocese last year identified two other priests who were facing credible accusations of abusing minors. Both men are no longer associated with the Tulsa diocese.

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