BOISE — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise has placed a priest in Post Falls on administrative leave amid allegations that he engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with a male under 18 nearly three decades ago.
Bishop Michael Driscoll notified members of the northern Idaho parish last weekend that the Rev. William R. Gould was placed on leave May 4.
Gould, 71, was ordained in 1965 and has served as priest at St. George’s Catholic Church in Post Falls since 1990. Gould has denied the allegations, according to a statement issued Monday by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise.
“Father Gould, as well as the person who made the allegation, will remain in my prayers as this difficult situation is resolved,” Driscoll said in the statement.
The bishop said he is following procedures for handling the allegations as directed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 at the peak of a priest sexual abuse scandal that rocked Catholic churches across the nation.
Driscoll said there is no way to determine how long it will take to investigate the case. Findings will also be sent to Rome for guidance.
Administrative leave means Gould cannot function publicly as a Catholic priest, can’t wear a priest collar and is forbidden from publicly celebrating mass. The diocese is arranging to have priests fill in temporarily during Gould’s absence.
The allegations date back 29 years ago when Gould was assigned to a parish in Idaho Falls. Diocese spokesman Michael Brown said he didn’t know the specific church Gould was assigned at the time the alleged inappropriate conduct would have occurred.
Brown also said he is not aware of any other accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior involving minors against Gould, who has served in parishes across the state in the last 45 years.
But Gould was placed on administrative leave in 2005 after an investigation substantiated claims he engaged in sexual misconduct with an adult. He was sent for treatment to an out-of-state facility, then reassigned to St. George’s in Post Falls at the request of the parish, Brown said.
Gould began his career as an assistant pastor in Cottonwood in 1965 before moving later that year to Twin Falls. In 1971, he was named chaplain at Sacred Heart Hospital in Idaho Falls, then associate pastor at Holy Rosary in Idaho Falls. He has also served as pastor at churches in Aberdeen, American Falls, Shelley, Arco, Mackay, Mud Lake, St. Anthony’s and Roberts.