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

Donald Philip Baker

Baker was ordained in 1980 and left the ministry in 1994. In 2017, a man reported that Baker had sexually abused him when he was a teenager in his Lenoir parish from 1986 to 1989. The diocese said it contacted Caldwell County DSS and Lenoir police but no charges were filed. Baker was living in Arizona at the time of the allegation and worked in the Diocese of Phoenix. In 2019, the Charlotte Diocese’s Lay Review Board deemed the allegation was credible.

Charles Jeffries “Jeff” Burton

Burton was ordained in 1967, removed in 2007 and died in 2011. In 1994, a man reported that Burton made advances and inappropriately touched him when he was a teenager in 1982 at a youth ministry center in Flat Rock. Burton had been assigned by the Maryland Province of Jesuits to work in the Charlotte Diocese. The diocese said it reported the allegation to his supervising religious order, which sent Burton for treatment and returned him to ministry in New Jersey. The Jesuits said Burton was removed from ministry in 2007 after the Flat Rock allegation resurfaced and he acknowledged the incident.

[FULL COVERAGE: Diocese of Charlotte releases list of clergy credibly accused of child sex abuse]

Eugene D. Corbesero

Corbesero was ordained in 1962, dismissed in 1983 and died in 2016. In 1995, a man reported that he had been abused by Corbesero when he was a teenager at Our Lady of Consolation Church in Charlotte sometime between 1973 and 1975. The diocese said it alerted his Corbesero’s order at the time of the allegation to verify he was no longer in ministry. In 2007, the former priest pleaded guilty and served five years in prison for sexually assaulting a child in New Jersey in 2006, according to reports.

Aloysius Joseph D’Silva

D’Silva was ordained in 1961 and died in 2005. In 1998, a teenager reported D’Silva had inappropriately touched and kissed her at St. Bernadette Catholic Mission in Linville. The diocese said it could not confirm the claim at the time. It wasn’t until the 2019 review that the allegation was re-examined and deemed credible.

Richard B. Farwell

Farwell was ordained in 1981 and removed in 2002. In 1999, a woman reported that Farwell had abused her son in the early 1980s. The diocese said the accuser did not come forward. In 2002, the accuser did come forward and said Farwell had abused him when he was 12 or 13 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Salisbury in 1983. Later in 2002, a second allegation against Farwell was reported by the attorney for a man who said Farwell had sexually abused him when he was 15 at St. Ann Catholic Church in Charlotte and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Salisbury in 1984. Farwell was indicted in Rowan County on two felony counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor. In 2004, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was sentenced to probation. He currently lives in Florida.

P. Patrick Gavigan

Gavigan was ordained in 1953 and died in 2007. In 2002, a woman reported she was abused by Gavigan in 1973 at Our Lady of Grace Church in Greensboro. The Lay Review Board recommended Gavigan, who was living in a North Carolina nursing home, be restricted from ministry to minors.

Adelbert “Del” Holmes

Holmes was ordained in 1963 and died in 2013. In 2019, Holmes was publicly named on the Ohio-based Glenmary Home Missioners’ list of clergy credibly accused of abuse of a minor. He had been assigned twice to work in western North Carolina in the mid-1960s and mid-1970s. The Diocese of Charlotte said it had no record of abuse allegations against Holmes but requested more information. The Glenmary society said Holmes had been accused of abusing three minors in 1976 in Murphy, where he served at St. William Catholic Church. It said it learned of the North Carolina allegations in 1988. He was sent for treatment and removed from ministry in 1991.

Donald J. Joyce

Joyce was ordained in 1958, removed in 1997 and died in 2013. In 2002, a man reported that he had been abused as a minor by Joyce from 1973 to 1976 at Sacred Heart Catholic Mission in Wadesboro. The diocese said it reported the allegation to Union County DSS and Joyce’s supervising religious order.

Michael Joseph Kelleher

Kelleher was ordained in 1953, retired in 1999, removed in 2010 and died in 2014. In 2010, the diocese said someone posted on an online message board claiming he was abused by Kelleher at Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic Church in Albemarle in 1977. Albemarle police charged Kelleher with one felony count of taking indecent liberties with a child, and he reportedly admitted to the abuse. A judge ruled ailing Kelleher was not fit to stand trial and dismissed the case in 2014. He died a month later. After Kelleher was charged, others came forward saying Kelleher had also abused them in the 1970s and 1980s, including more victims in Charlotte and Hendersonville.

Peter Tan Van Le

Le was ordained in 1973, retired in 2011 and removed in 2013. In 2013, the diocese said it received several allegations that Le sexually abused minors at St. Joseph Vietnamese Catholic Church in Charlotte. The diocese said it notified Mecklenburg County DSS, which referred the information to law enforcement. No charges were filed, but the diocese’s Lay Review Board found the allegations credible. The diocese removed Le and notified his home diocese of Vinh Long, Vietnam.

Damion Jacques Lynch

Lynch was ordained in 1991, removed in 1998 and dismissed in 2009. In the mid-1990s, parents of a 14-year-old boy alleged that Lynch molested him from 1991 to 1995, when Lynch served at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Boone. Lynch admitted the abuse and was sent for psychiatric treatment. In 1997, after a counselor cleared Lynch for return to ministry, then-Charlotte Bishop William Curlin appointed Lynch to Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church in Charlotte. About that same time, the brother of the initial victim also accused Lynch of abusing him during his time in Boone. Lynch was removed from ministry in January of 1998 and the Diocese of Charlotte settled two lawsuits with the family in Watauga County Superior Court.

Justin Paul Pechulis

Pechulis was ordained in 1958 and died in 1983. In 2008, a civil lawsuit was filed in Buncombe County Superior Court against the Diocese of Charlotte and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia by a man alleging he was sexually assaulted at St. Lawrence Catholic Church (now Basilica) in Asheville in 1976 or 1977. The man said he was 15 or 16 at the time of the abuse and named as his assailants Pechulis, who was deceased, as well as a Philadelphia priest and a third unidentified man. Pechulis, a Pennsylvania native and friend of the Philadelphia priest, was pastor of St. Lawrence Catholic Church at the time of the alleged assault. Although Pechulis had died in 1983, civil authorities were notified in Philadelphia and Asheville. Both the Philadelphia and Charlotte review boards investigated the allegation. The Charlotte diocese’s Lay Review Board found the allegation credible in 2008. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2010.

Donald Francis Scales

Scales was ordained in 1955, removed in 2006 and died in 2008. In 2006, a man wrote a letter to the administrator of St. Michael Catholic Church in Gastonia alleging he had been sexually abused as a minor by Scales at the parish in 1977-1978. Scales had been assigned to the parish by the Benedictines of Belmont Abbey, his supervising religious order. In 1980, Scales relocated to a Benedictine priory in Richmond, Virginia. When the allegation was reported in 2006, the Richmond priory, Belmont Abbey and Gaston County DSS were notified, and DSS alerted the Gaston County District Attorney’s office. Scales denied the allegation. No charges were filed, but the Diocese of Charlotte’s Lay Review Board found the allegation credible and his order removed him from ministry in 2006.

Robert Yurgel

Yurgel was ordained in 1996, removed in 2008, convicted in 2009 and dismissed in 2010. In April of 2008, the Diocese of Charlotte learned of abuse allegations against Yurgel when he was arrested in Passaic, New Jersey, after a man reported to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police that he had been repeatedly abused by Yurgel almost a decade earlier. Yurgel had been assigned by the New Jersey-based Capuchin Franciscans religious order to work at St. Matthew Church in Charlotte from 1997 to 1999. The abuse occurred when the victim was 14 and reportedly took place at several locations including St. Matthew and Our Lady of Consolation churches in Charlotte and St. Michael Church in Gastonia.

Yurgel was extradited to Charlotte following his arrest. In February of 2009, he pleaded guilty to felony second-degree sexual offense and served nearly eight years in prison. He was released from prison in August of 2016, ordered to register as a sex offender, and moved to New Jersey, according to published reports.

In 2010, a civil lawsuit against the Capuchin Franciscans and the Charlotte diocese was settled.

Read more details about the priests named by the Charlotte Diocese here.