A priest at St. John Baptist De LaSalle Roman Catholic Church in Chillum has been arrested and charged with two counts of sexual child abuse involving two teen-agers, Prince George's County police said yesterday.

The youths, who are now 15 and 18, are not members of the St. John's parish and did not attend the parish school when the alleged offenses occurred between 1981 and 1985, said Msgr. Joaquin Bazan, pastor of St. John's.

The priest, the Rev. Peter M. McCutcheon, 34, has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, said the Rev. William Lori, secretary to Archbishop James A. Hickey. McCutcheon was released without bond Tuesday, police said.

Bazan said that McCutcheon, who was assigned to St. John's in early 1984, was not involved with the church school and that he worked mainly with the elderly and with tenants at the troubled Chillum Heights apartment complex.

When 119 families were evicted from that complex last year, McCutcheon helped many of the tenants relocate, Bazan said.

"He has a pickup truck and was forever moving people," said Bazan, adding that McCutcheon also set up meetings to make sure tenants knew their rights and were treated justly. "He was very well-liked. This whole thing is very tragic," Bazan said.

McCutcheon, who was ordained in 1979, lived at the parish, located at 5706 Sargent Rd., and also at a house in Lusby, Md., Bazan said.

Lori would not say where McCutcheon had worked before he was assigned to St. John's.

Prince George's police said McCutcheon was arrested Tuesday after an investigation was conducted with police in Montgomery County, where one of the boys lived.