Fall River priest on leave after sexual misconduct allegations

Local News

Allegations of sexual misconduct involving the Rev. Jay Mello do not involve minors, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River said.

Fall River priest on leave after sexual misconduct allegations

Empty pews in a New York church. (Ryan Christopher Jones/The New York Times)

A well-known Fall River Catholic priest has been removed from his position and placed on leave due to allegations of sexual misconduct, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River announced Sunday.

The Rev. Jay Mello has served as pastor of nearby St. Michael and St. Joseph churches in Fall River since 2016. The diocese said in a statement that Mello, 44, was placed on administrative leave last week due to allegations of sexual misconduct.

The allegations do not involve minors, the diocese said.

The diocese said its initial investigation showed “sufficient evidence to warrant further investigation to determine whether Father Mello violated the standards of ministerial behavior.”

Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha wrote to parishioners this weekend that Mello’s departure and the ongoing investigation are “shocking and disturbing.”

“This situation is distressing for all of us,” he wrote. “Please know that my prayers accompany all the faithful of Saint-Michel and Saint-Joseph parishes during this difficult time. »

Mello is an active member of the Fall River community. He serves on the school committee for the Greater Fall River Regional Vocational School District. Committee Chairman Paul Jennings did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

According to Fall River Herald NewsMello also serves as chaplain for the city’s police department.

With the investigation ongoing, Mello no longer resides at the rectory, which the diocese says is standard practice. Another priest will temporarily assume responsibilities for both churches, and the current schedule of religious services will remain unchanged.

Mello did not respond to multiple requests for comment Tuesday, but the diocese said he denied the allegations.

“(Father Mello) is entitled to the presumption of innocence until the investigation is completed and a final decision is made,” the diocese wrote.


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