BANGOR — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland is investigating the actions of a priest who got into a fight with a man hours before the man shot a woman 10 times.

A Superior Court justice said this week that the Rev. Anthony Cipolle “inflamed” the course of events that led to the death of Renee Henneberry Clark in July 2018. Her killer, Philip Clark, was sentenced this week to 43 years in prison.

Cipolle testified he was helping Henneberry Clark remove marital assets from her Hampden home because she feared her estranged husband and his brother, Philip Clark, when a fight erupted over the removal of some tools.

Police were called to quell the fight between Clark and Cipolle. Hours later, Clark shot Henneberry Clark to death.

Justice William Stokes said before sentencing Clark that the priest could’ve “defused” the tense situation but instead “inflamed” it through his actions, the Bangor Daily News reported.

“The role of Anthony Cipolle in this tragedy, I don’t think can be overstated,” the judge said Tuesday. “He certainly did not help the situation at all, at least from my point of view. Cipolle clearly inserted himself into this whole situation.”

Cipolle, who testified he considered Henneberry Clark to be his best friend, was renting a room to her in Etna at the time of her death.

Cipolle is on leave from the diocese, which is deciding whether Cipolle will return to work as a priest, said diocese spokesman Dave Guthro. A final decision is expected in a few weeks, he said.

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