South Carolina

Catholic church in SC names priests accused of sex abuse

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Catholic diocese in South Carolina has released a list of 42 priests with ties to the state who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children.

[LINK: Priests with credible allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse of minors]

The Charleston Diocese released the list Friday afternoon. All but 11 of the priests on the list have died. The list doesn't specify the parishes or institutions where the priests served.

At least one priest has ties to the Charlotte area. Father James Sharple served at churches in York and Lancaster counties. He was ordained in 1946 and died in 1974.

"It is with a heavy heart and in the spirit of transparency and accountability that I, based on the recommendations of the independent Sexual Abuse Advisory Board of the Diocese of Charleston, release the names of those clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct or abuse involving a minor," Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone said. "It is my fervent hope and prayer that publishing this list will help bring healing to the victims and their families who have been so grievously harmed by the betrayal of priests and Church leadership."

The Diocese of Charlotte has not committed to providing the same list of priests.

The list was broken into four parts. Twenty-one priests served in South Carolina. Others were named in a class-action settlement over abuse, had abuse claims from a diocese outside South Carolina or were a visiting priest to the state.

Dioceses across the country have been releasing lists of priests accused of abusing children since a grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania last year identified nearly 300 "predator priests" going back nearly 70 years.

On Thursday, the Diocese of Charlotte announced the second highest ranking official in the local church, Monsignor Mauricio West, resigned after the Lay Review Board determined an allegation of sexual misconduct to be credible.

[Charlotte Diocese chancellor steps down after 'credible' allegation of sexual misconduct]

The church said the misconduct involved unwanted advances to an adult student in the 1980s, while West worked at Belmont Abbey College.

Rene Antcil with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said it all comes down to Bishop Peter Jugis.

"He's the holder of the files. He's the keeper of the secrets," Antcil said.

It's unclear if West was involved in investigating other claims of misconduct and abuse. In 2003 when former Charlotte Catholic teacher Mark Doherty was accused of sex abuse, West put out statements.

Charleston is joining a score of other dioceses by publishing a list of credibly accused priests.

Antcil said parishioners have a right to know and victims deserve to be heard.

"For people who have seen their perpetrator in public be identified, it is like a huge weight has been taken off their shoulders," he said.

The Diocese of Charlotte did not comment on whether the Vatican has been notified about West. Pope Francis has the sole authority to remove priests. 

According to a spokesman, clergy and professional staff will assume West's duties in the interim until a permanent assignment can be made.

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