Lawsuit claims former priest sexually abused boy inside Ballantyne church

CHARLOTTE — There are new claims alleging that a former priest sexually abused a boy inside a Ballantyne church.

Former Catholic priest Robert Yurgel is a free man after he went to prison in 2009 for abusing an altar boy at St. Matthews in the late 1990s.

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Another man now claims Yurgel abused him there when he was as young as five years old.

“It was all on the grounds on the church,” said Nate Foote, attorney for the victim, who is now in his late 20s. “Yurgel convinced our client the sexual abuse was part of a confession ritual.”

The lawsuit against the Charlotte Diocese, Capuchin Franciscan Friars, and Yurgel claims the abuse happened between July 1997 and October 1999, when the plaintiff was between five and seven years old.

Yurgel was defrocked and served nearly eight years in prison for abusing altar boy Robby Price in 1999. The Charlotte Diocese and Capuchins settled a civil lawsuit with parents Robert and Anne Price.

“It is kind of earth-shattering,” Anne Price told Channel 9 on the phone. “It is not what I expected to learn the week of Christmas.”

The Charlotte Diocese said they first learned of the new allegation earlier this year and just received the lawsuit Monday and said, in part: “The diocese takes all allegations of child sexual abuse seriously no matter when they might have occurred and continues to encourage anyone who has information about possible abuse to report it to police.”

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This legal action is only possible because North Carolina lawmakers passed the Safe Child Act last year and opened a two-year window that allows adults previously past the statute of limitations a chance to seek justice in civil court.

“Our client and we believe Yurgel and the diocese should not be able to move on with their business and move on with their lives while our client suffers,” Foote said

The new allegations have also been reported to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and officers informed the diocese they plan to investigate the case.

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