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Lake County cleric becomes 17th in SR Diocese accused of misconduct; inquiries launched

A Lake County Catholic priest has been placed on administrative leave from his church and law enforcement ministries pending an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of an altar boy more than a decade ago, church and law authorities said Tuesday.

Father Ted Oswald was suspended Monday from his post at St. Mary Immaculate Church in Lakeport pending an investigation into the allegations, which were made in a civil lawsuit, said Santa Rosa Diocese spokeswoman Deirdre Frontczak.

The lawsuit, filed last month in Sonoma County Superior Court, alleges sexual misconduct involving a minor between 1988 and 1995, said Dan Galvin, attorney for the diocese.

Oswald has vigorously denied the allegations, which he revealed to his parishioners during his last Mass on Sunday. No one was answering the phone at St. Mary Immaculate Church on Tuesday evening, and diocese officials said they did not know where Oswald is staying.

Oswald has never before been accused of misconduct, Galvin said.

"We have no history, nothing in his background to indicate any prior problems, so this came as a complete shock and surprise to us," he said.

The lawsuit names both Oswald and the Santa Rosa Diocese as defendants.

Oswald also has taken a leave of absence from his positions as a chaplain with the Lakeport Police Department and Lake County Sheriff's Office, officials said.

The Lake County District Attorney's Office is investigating the complaint, said District Attorney Jon Hopkins.

Oswald has been a priest at St. Mary Immaculate Church for about 20 years, Galvin said.

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