(Jan. 7, 2020) – A Catholic diocese in North Carolina on Dec. 30, 2019 published a list of 14 clergy members it says have been credibly accused of child sex abuse. The Diocese of Charlotte also listed 23 additional clergy members who were accused of misconduct while working for the church in other places, as well as six other clergy members who worked in the area before the diocese formed in 1972.
Bishop Peter Jugis Apologizes
Bishop Peter Jugis apologized to victims on the diocese’s website:
“To all who have been victimized by Catholic clergy, I apologize on behalf of the diocese and express to you personally my heartfelt sorrow for the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain you have suffered.”
“Regrettably, it is clear in our history that the Catholic Church – including this diocese – did not fully understand the pathology of child sexual abuse or respond to allegations as aggressively as it could have, as we do today.”
The Charlotte diocese serves more than 400,000 Catholics in 46 counties. It claims that no clergy now working for it has been credibly accused of molesting minors, and that only one credible case of abuse has been alleged in the past 20 years. (SNAP begs to differ: please read on.)
“Credibly accused,” as the diocese uses the term, means allegations that clergy members admitted to, were charged for by law enforcement, were found believable by the diocese’s Lay Review Board, or were uncovered in a recently-completed review of personnel files.
The diocese said most of the incidents reported occurred decades ago, and all 14 accused clergy were subsequently removed from ministry or had died before the allegations arose.
The NC Safe Child Act
“I hope this action is part of a process to bring some closure and justice to the victim survivors,” said N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein in a statement. His staff drafted legislation in 2019 that extended the statute of limitations for child abuse claims,
Mr. Stein added, “Each of these victim survivors has legal recourse available, including a two-year look-back window for civil claims, regardless of the statute of limitations, that the SAFE Child Act made available to them.”
SNAP: N.C. Lists Incomplete
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said the lists were incomplete. Among the accused not named, said SNAP, were a former Charlotte teacher who had been ordained elsewhere, and a seminarian in Salisbury. SNAP also noted the absence of Paul L. Berrell, a former minister of music at St. Eugene Catholic Church in Asheville; Mr. Berrell pleaded guilty in 2010 to producing child pornography.
SNAP said this is information Catholic officials in Charlotte have, yet chose not to make public. “It is hard to see this as anything but continued efforts by church leadership to downplay cases of sexual violence and make the problem appear less common — and less recent — than it is,” SNAP said in a statement.
“Someone who works in the church is not a minister of the church,” retorted the Rev. Patrick Winslow, the diocese’s second in command. He said the disclosure was focused solely on ordained clergy: deacons, priests, bishops; and on religious brothers from other orders.
List of accused priests
Clergy listed as having credible allegations against them while serving the Charlotte diocese since 1972:
- Donald Philip Baker
- Charles Jeffries “Jeff” Burton
- Eugene D. Corbesero
- Aloysius Joseph D’Silva
- Richard B. Farwell
- P. Patrick Gavigan
- Adelbert “Del” Holmes
- Donald J. Joyce
- Michael Joseph Kelleher
- Peter Tan Van Le
- Damion Jacques Lynch
- Justin Paul Pechulis
- Donald Francis Scales
- Robert Yurgel