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St. Martins priest on leave for alleged misconduct

St. Martins priest on leave for alleged misconduct

January 11th, 2019 by News Tribune in Local News

The Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City has received an allegation of inappropriate behavior by the Rev. Mark Porterfield, pastor of St. Martin Catholic Church in St. Martins and judicial vicar for the diocese.

A statement from the diocese provided to parishioners and staff and shared with the News Tribune on Friday reads: "While the allegation does not involve a minor, it does fall within the protocol of the diocese for clergy conduct and requires further consultation and investigation."

Diocese officials said Porterfield is on administrative leave while the canonical investigation is underway. He is not allowed to function publicly as a priest while on administrative leave.

The Rev. Chris Aubuchon, who serves as chaplain at Helias Catholic High School and diocesan director of vocations, has been appointed temporary pastoral administrator of St. Martin Catholic Church.

Porterfield's duties as judicial vicar have been re-assigned to various personnel, with Monsignor Gregory Higley continuing in the position of adjutant judicial vicar.

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The judicial vicar serves as the chief church lawyer for the diocese, diocese officials explained. He oversees the Tribunal, which is the church court. Most cases before a modern Tribunal deal with marriages — most of which are marriages in which the parties have received a civil divorce for the civil marriage but also need an annulment regarding the sacramental marriage.

Annulment cases before the Tribunal will not be impacted by the personnel changes, according to the diocese's statement.

As Bishop W. Shawn McKnight encouraged the person who reported this matter to the diocese to do, any person who believes they have been the victim of misconduct involving a priest or deacon of the diocese is encouraged to contact appropriate law enforcement officials, according to the diocese's statement.

To report inappropriate behavior toward children or vulnerable adults, contact the appropriate Missouri state hotline:

The Missouri Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1-800-392-0210

The Missouri Child Abuse & Neglect Hotline: 1-800-392-3738

An attorney general form to report clergy abuse is available online at ago.mo.gov/other-resources/clergy-abuse-resources.

The diocese provides a victim assistance coordinator, a licensed professional counselor and a certified clinical trauma professional, Nancy Hoey, to assist people in reporting abuse or misconduct and in seeking support. She may be contacted at 573-694-3199.

McKnight arrived as bishop shortly before revelations were made about alleged abuses of power by a former Washington, D.C., archbishop, and before a Pennsylvania grand jury reported cover-ups of child sexual abuse by clergy.

McKnight had begun an internal investigation upon his arrival and in August joined the Archdiocese of St. Louis in requesting that then-Attorney General Josh Hawley investigate potential clergy abuse locally. There is no word yet on the status of the state's investigation.

The Diocese of Jefferson City has since released and updated a list of "credibly accused" clergy who have served within it, although none currently serving the diocese were listed.


This article was updated at noon Jan. 11, 2019, with additional information.