February 26. 2013 9:28PM

Pembroke couple files suit against Manchester diocese

From staff reports

A Pembroke couple filed a civil complaint Tuesday against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester claiming a retired priest made sexually inappropriate and harassing comments to their son during confession last month.

The suit filed by James and Kimberly Timbas against the diocese and St. John Regional School in Concord also claims the Rev. George A. Desjardins touched the boy without consent. The child is a student at the school. Manchester attorney Peter E. Hutchins represents the plaintiffs in the suit filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester.

Kevin Donovan, director of communications for the Diocese of Manchester, said the diocese disputes the allegations.

"The diocese's Code of Ministerial Conduct and its policy for the Protection of Children and Young People detail how the diocese responds to allegations of sexual misconduct and allegations of such misconduct are taken very seriously," he said in an email.

The complaint, made by James Timbas to the school's principal, was investigated "and clearly did not amount to an allegation of sexual abuse."

"The 'touching' described in the complaint was actually a handshake offered by the priest publicly after a Mass," Donovan said. "We will respond to the complaint in court and expect a speedy resolution. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with the student, his family, the accused priest, and all the students, faculty and administration of the school. The diocese and the school will continue to provide the student with a supportive school environment."