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Remains of priest removed from Quebec Mohawk community after sex abuse allegations

The remains of a priest alleged to have sexually abused children have been exhumed and removed from the Mohawk community of Kahnawake.

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, which governs the community south of Montreal, says the remains of Rev. Leon Lajoie, who died in 1999, were exhumed Wednesday from the grounds of the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, where he was buried.

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A priest arrives at a church for a mass at the St. Francis Xavier church on the Kahnawake First Nation, near Montreal, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. The First Nation of Kahnawake outside Montreal voted in favour of the exhumation of a priest's remains alleged to have committed sexual abuse. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.

Last summer, several members of the community alleged that they were abused by Lajoie and called for his remains to be removed to start a healing process.

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Members of the community in March voted 233 to 195 in favour of the exhumation.

Lajoie, a Jesuit, arrived in Kahnawake in 1961 and was a parish priest until 1990.

An investigation by the Jesuits found no evidence of abuse by Lajoie, though it found evidence of a “serious sexual assault at St. Francis-Xavier Mission,” the church where Lajoie was buried, but the probe concluded the assault was committed by someone else.

–with files from Alessia Simona Maratta, Global News

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