The Deacon Coordinator for the Catholic Diocese of Belleville was arraigned Friday on criminal sexual assault charges.
A grand jury indicted Robert Lanter, of Swansea, on April 12. Lanter entered a plea of not guilty Friday.
The charges state the victim was a 29-year-old woman who could not give consent.
Monsignor John Myler said Lanter gave his resignation to Bishop Edward Braxton on Thursday.
“I know that this information will come to you as a surprise and be a source of sadness and concern,” Braxton wrote in a letter to priests and deacons in the diocese.
“At this juncture, the most important thing for us to do is to pray for Deacon Lanter, his family, and all those who may have been harmed by this development.”
Lanter, 68, was the head of the deacons in the diocese. Lanter is a deacon who is ordained. Deavons can baptize, perform funeral and burial services outside of Mass, distribute Holy Communion and preach the homily during Mass.
He was based at St. Luke’s and St. Teresa’s Catholic churches in Belleville.
Lanter is free on the $100,000 bail.
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