A Catholic priest who was removed as pastor of four central Illinois parishes over an abuse allegation says the church inquiry that led to his ouster resembled a witch hunt.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield removed the Rev. Robert DeGrand from parishes in Sigel, Neoga, Green Creek and Lillyville in early May over alleged misconduct that occurred in Jacksonville in 1980.

The (Alton) Telegraph reports DeGrand criticized the diocese in a letter to parishioners.

His removal was not directly related to the abuse allegation but instead for refusing to comply with Bishop Thomas John Paprocki's order to move to a private Springfield home while on administrative leave after a 2013 complaint.

DeGrand also has served parishes in Winchester, Bluffs and Granite City.

Ron Chapple Stock, ThinkStock