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US archbishop resigns after sex assault allegations

Rembert G. Weakland, the 75 year old Archbishop of Milwaukee, has been granted permission by the Pope to resign after paying off a man who claims he was sexually assaulted in the archbishop's apartment 20 years ago.

"He was sitting next to me," Paul Marcoux, 54, said. "Tried to kiss me and continued to force himself on me. "Pulled down my trousers. Attempted to fondle me. Think of it in terms of date rape."

The archbishop denied the assault, but not to having a love affair with the man. "I have never abused anyone," he said on Wednesday.

A letter from the archbishop to Mr Marcoux, written in 1980, suggests that Mr Marcoux's version is partial. The anguished letter tells of a long-standing affair and the archbishop's crisis of conscience. "I cry as I write this," he wrote.

"All this is far too heavy for me but I suppose that is the pain of deep love. During the last months I have come to know how strained I was. I couldn't pray at all.

"I felt like the world's worst hypocrite. So, gradually, I came back to the importance of celibacy in my life."

Mr Marcoux kept the letter. In 1980 the archbishop paid Mr Marcoux $A25,188 but refused to hand over more because he felt he was being blackmailed. In 1998 the archbishop and the diocese paid Mr Marcoux $809,644 in a pact in which both sides agreed to keep the events secret.

Statement of Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B., Archbishop of Milwaukee
Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Catholic Church shaken by new disclosures (Reuters)

The Times (London)

27 May 2002