Charlotte diocese considering publishing names of priests with sexual abuse allegations

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Catholic Church is where parishioners practice their faith.

However, it’s a place of pain for victims sexually abused by priests.

After the Pennsylvania attorney general's grand jury investigation revealed allegations against more than 300 priests, prosecutors in several states opened their own investigations.

A man who claims he was abused in the Charlotte diocese in the 1970s sent a letter to North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, urging him to open an investigation.

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"I was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a priest,” the letter said. “I'm urging your office to open an investigation."

Stein told Channel 9 that North Carolina law limits what he can do.

Prosecutors in North Carolina do not have the same investigative grand jury authority they have in Pennsylvania.

Stein said it's up to local district attorneys to prosecute cases unless they refer them to his office.

He thinks lawmakers should broaden prosecutors' powers.

“We also need to close a loophole in our law that requires people to report suspected child abuse,” Stein said. “Right now, it is only limited to parents and caregivers. It does not cover people in positions of trust.”

Stein said the diocese for Charlotte doesn't handle abuse allegations the same way Raleigh does.

“In Raleigh, any complaint they get automatically gets referred to law enforcement,” Stein said. “That's something the Charlotte diocese needs to consider as well.”

“In the diocese of Charlotte, the authority we've been going to for the last 15 years is DSS,” said David Hains, spokesman for the Charlotte diocese.

Eyewitness News anchor Allison Latos asked Hains if the Charlotte diocese is going to publish a list of priests found with credible allegations of sexual abuse.

“That is something under consideration,” Hains said. “Some of the allegations are personnel matters involving people that are dead and allegations have surfaced after they died. It’s very difficult to be fair to that person after they’re gone.”

Latos then asked, how will you respond to parishioners and the public who may be critical if the decision is to not reveal the information?

”I’ll be the one talking about it and I’ve always been pretty easy to find and I assume I’ll have a list of good reasons why,” Hains said.

Hains said a decision could come in a few weeks on whether the Charlotte diocese will publish that list of priests.

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