Diocese of Charlotte releases list of clergy credibly accused of child sex abuse

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Diocese of Charlotte released a list of clergy members credibly accused of child sex abuse since the diocese was established in 1972.

Dioceses nationwide started revealing the names of church leaders accused of abuse, but the Diocese of Charlotte had not yet released a list of all priests with credible allegations until Monday.

Channel 9 has been pushing for it to be released for months.

[Read list of 14 priests accused of child sex abuse since Charlotte Diocese was established]

The list revealed 14 clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor since 1972. You can read the list by clicking here.

The diocese said the list contains details about each Charlotte Diocese clergy and the allegations against them. It also includes information about six accused clergy members who served in western North Carolina before the Charlotte Diocese was established.

The list also reveals information on 23 clergy members who served in the Charlotte Diocese but were accused of sexual abuse elsewhere by other dioceses and religious orders.

Allegations were deemed credible either through law enforcement, the diocese’s Lay Review Board or a review of the diocese’s personnel files.

Attorney Seth Langson represents sex abuse victims and said he knows priests who should be on the, but are not.

“The list is incomplete,” Langson said. “There’s no transparency.”

Langson also questioned how the diocese determined which allegations were credible.

“(It) really calls into questions what credible means, because they are determining credible,” Langson said. “That’s like being your own judge and jury. The police ought to be the ones determining what is credible.”

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Former Ballantyne priest Robert Yurgel was one of the more recently accused. He was assigned to St. Matthew Catholic Church in the late 90s and sexually abused a 14-year-old altar boy in 1999. In 2017, the victim’s family told Channel 9 they still battle both guilt and anger.

“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,” Diocese of Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis said in a statement. “You deserved a priest in whom you could place your trust, a model of Jesus the Good Shepherd. 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.”

An independent investigative firm was conducting the review of tens of thousands of documents ahead of the list’s release.

Father Patrick Winslow, vicar general and chancellor of the diocese, oversaw the files that were reviewed and the list as it was created.

Earlier this year, Winslow said he acknowledged the diocese needed to improve its communication about this crucial topic.

Channel 9 asked Winslow if the latest investigation revealed any patterns of coverups by the church.

"We didn't find any malfeasance if that's what you’re asking about,” Winslow said. “We found people at the time were responding to the norms of the day and the way they knew how to respond back then."

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said a good list includes a photo, nicknames, a full work history and information on and reaction to each allegation.

SNAP said it is not satisfied with the Charlotte Diocese’s list, because “at least nine priests whose allegations are a matter of public record” were left off it.

“By declining to include people like deacons, youth ministers, music ministers, other church staffers who have had access to children in the same sort of way and not include them on the list,” SNAP executive director Zach Hiner said. “It doesn't feel like full accountability at all.”

SNAP expects more survivors to come forward in light of the list that was released.

Earlier this month, the diocese announced a man in Pennsylvania came forward with claims that Father Patrick Hoare, from the St. Matthew community in Ballantyne, sexually abused him 25 years ago when the accuser was a child.

Channel 9 asked why Hoare was not on the list. The diocese said the accusation is still under investigation.

But Hoare’s name is one of many priests the church watchdog group, Bishop Accountability, claims the Diocese of Charlotte failed to mention.

Founder Terry McKiernan said that information is crucial for transparency and the safety of children now and in the future.

“These are supposedly men of God who are assaulting children, and this is something they really ought to try to get right,” McKiernan said. “So I would say that they need to add the people they missed the first time around.”

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