The pastor of St. George’s Catholic Church in Post Falls has been placed on administrative leave amid allegations of sexual misconduct, according to the bishop of the Diocese of Boise.
Bishop Michael Driscoll accepted the Rev. William R. Gould’s request for leave from active ministry effective Oct. 16 after learning that the priest “was involved in activity which violates the Diocese of Boise’s sexual misconduct policies as they relate to adults,” Driscoll said in a written statement.
Contacted in Boise, diocesan spokeswoman Colette Cowman declined to explain the nature of Gould’s alleged misconduct other than to say that the priest did “nothing illegal.” She would not say when Gould, who is also pastor of St. Joseph’s Chapel in Spirit Lake and St. Stanislaus Chapel in Rathdrum, could be expected to return.
“I’m sure as soon as he can work through his difficulties he’ll be back,” said Cowman, who added that the diocese was not conducting an investigation into the matter.
The Post Falls Police Department was told of Gould’s suspension, but was assured by the diocese that it was not a criminal matter, meaning no youths were involved, said Lt. Greg McLean.
“If something happened, it was out of our jurisdiction,” McLean said.
Driscoll attended Mass at St. George’s on Oct. 16, when Gould announced his decision to request leave, according to the bishop’s statement. He said it was the policy of the diocese to address Gould’s situation as “a confidential personnel matter.”
“We have developed a plan to provide priests to celebrate the sacraments at St. George Parish during the next months, and my staff and I will be available to help both Father Gould and parishioners deal with this situation,” Driscoll said.
Gould, 66, who grew up in Jerome, Idaho, has been a priest for 40 years, having been ordained in 1965 after graduating from St. Thomas Seminary in Seattle. He has been at St. George’s, a parish of about 1,800 people, since 1990 after three years at St. Edward Catholic Church in Twin Falls. He has served on the board of directors of the Post Falls Food Bank and as a trustee of the Post Falls Public Library.
In 1998, Gould led a petition effort asking local authorities do whatever they could to stop State Line Showgirls, a strip club near Post Falls, from opening.