Catholic priest who 'inflamed' events leading up to Hampden woman's murder removed from ministry

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PORTLAND, Maine (WABI) - A Catholic priest who got in a fight with a Hampden man the night he killed his sister-in-law has been removed from ministry.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland said they have concluded their investigation into the actions of 55-year-old Anthony Cipolle and the "inflamed" events that led up to the July 2018 shooting of Renee Clark.

The night Philip Clark shot Renee to death, Cipolle and Clark got into a fight that left Clark with broken ribs and a possible concussion.

During Clark's trial, Cipolle described Renee as his best friend and denied any romantic relationship with her.

The Diocese investigation determined Cipolle abused his position as a member of the clergy, violated the Diocese of Portland's Code of Ethics, and attempted to deceive investigators.

Cipolle has been out of ministry since December 2018 at his request.

It was revealed that before his priesthood, he had a lengthy criminal past and a substance abuse order.

Cipolle testified he first met Renee when she served as a drug counselor 15 years before her death.

The two met again years later after he began serving at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Bangor.

Clark is serving 43 years in prison for murder.

While the investigation has concluded, Bishop Deeley encourages anyone who may have further information concerning this case, or any allegation of misconduct, to contact Michael Magalski, Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility for the Diocese of Portland, at (207) 321-7836 or at michael.magalski@portlanddiocese.org.