CHICAGO — The Archdiocese of Chicago says the first Catholic priest to adopt a child is under investigation for allegedly sexual abusing a minor in 1974.

The archdiocese said in a news release Thursday that Cardinal Blase Cupich asked Father George Clements to step aside from ministry pending the outcome of the investigation. The 87-year-old Clements is retired but the diocese says he still assists at area parishes.

The release says Chicago Police notified the archdiocese about the allegations. The archdiocese then notified the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

Seven years after the 1980 adoption, Clements was the subject of a television movie, “The Father Clements Story,” starring Louis Gossett Jr.

When contacted by the Chicago Sun-Times, Clements said the accusation was “totally unfounded.”

“Here I am, 87 years old, and I don’t know what this is all about or anything,” Clements told the newspaper. “Certainly, the cardinal has not said one word to me about this.”

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese told the Chicago Sun-Times that the archdiocese had notified Clements by telephone.

The priest told the newspaper the “atmosphere here today is so toxic.”

“The overwhelming majority of priests have to wake up each morning wondering, ‘Is this the morning that someone is going to accuse me of something negative?’” Clements said.

Crux staff contributed to this report.

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