This is a representational image. Getty Images/Dan Kitwood

A priest in Fall River, Massachusetts, was removed from active priestly ministry after being accused of sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Fall River Bishop Edgar da Cunha told local newspaper the Herald News through an email Sunday that the diocese had received reports that Father Bruce Neylon, pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Fall River, had sexual contact with an unidentified individual. The individual claimed he was a teenager during the 1980s when the priest inappropriately touched him multiple times. The victim was not a member of the parish where Neylon was assigned to at the time and the alleged instances of abuse did not take place on church property.

An independent investigation was launched on the accused priest after the diocese informed a former state police trooper about the accusations. After receiving a report detailing his findings on the case from the trooper, the Diocesan Review Board – which comprised of nine lay and clerical members with legal, judicial, law enforcement and social work backgrounds as well as a victim of abuse – held separate interviews with both Neylon and the victim. During interrogation, the accused denied the allegations brought against him.

Following a process of discussion and deliberation, the board deduced that the allegations against the priest were credible. They also determined that his actions were inconsistent with the standards of ministerial behavior and in direct violation of the Code of Conduct for priests in the Fall River Diocese and the Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Apart from being stripped of his active priestly duties at the church, the accused was banned from exercising public ministry or presenting himself as a priest in public settings.

The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office was immediately informed of the accusations against Neylon. At the conclusion of weekend Masses Sunday, parishioners of Holy Trinity were informed of the allegations against the accused and the subsequent decision of the board.

“This matter is distressing for me as I know it is for you and your family. Holy Trinity School will have licensed counselors available on Tuesday should any student have questions or want to talk about the matter. I want to assure you that the safety and well-being of your child[ren] has always been and remains our priority,” da Cunha wrote in the mail.

After getting ordained in 1975, Neylon went onto serve at a number of parishes includes two others in Fall River — Holy Name (1975), and St. Stanislaus Parish (2002.) He was assigned to Holy Trinity in 2012.