Religion

Release names of accused sex abusers, survivors demand of Charlotte’s Catholic bishop

Survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests demanded Tuesday that the Diocese of Charlotte release a list of priests who have been credibly accused of harming children, as other U.S. dioceses have done. Rene Anctil and Wendy Mae, above, are Raleigh members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests or SNAP.
Survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests demanded Tuesday that the Diocese of Charlotte release a list of priests who have been credibly accused of harming children, as other U.S. dioceses have done. Rene Anctil and Wendy Mae, above, are Raleigh members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests or SNAP. bhenderson@charlotteobserver.com

Survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests demanded Tuesday that the Diocese of Charlotte release the names of priests who have been credibly accused of harming children, as other U.S. dioceses have done.

The resignation last week of Monsignor Mauricio West, the longtime second-in-command of the Charlotte diocese, “is just the tip of the iceberg and Bishop (Peter) Jugis knows this,” Rene Anctil, the Raleigh leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, told reporters.

“We watch nationwide what’s going on, who’s revealing names, who’s not,” Anctil added. “Unfortunately in this area, Bishop Jugis is holding on to the old ways.”

West was accused of sexual misconduct involving a former adult student at Belmont Abbey College in the 1980s, when he was vice president for student affairs. West denied the allegation but a Lay Review Board found them credible, the diocese reported.

Two former Benedictine monks who once worked at Belmont Abbey and St. Michael Catholic Church in Gastonia appeared on a list released by the Diocese of Richmond, Va., of priests “with credible and substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors,” the Observer reported in February.

Jugis issued a “sincere apology” to victims of clergy abuse the day after the report, but the Charlotte diocese has resisted the trend around the country of releasing a list of past and present priests who have been credibly accused of child sex abuse.

SNAP released the names Tuesday of five priests who it says have been accused of sexual abuse and once lived or worked in the Charlotte area. The Observer is not reporting those names without independently confirming the accusations.

“Once again a bishop of the Catholic Church is using the centuries-old tactics of denial, hiding and transferring pedophiles to protect them and also in this case by not releasing their names to the public,” Anctil said.

The diocese on Tuesday repeated its previous statements that releasing the names of credibly-accused clergy is “under discussion.”

“The alleged abuse by priests highlighted today by SNAP appears to have taken place outside of the Diocese of Charlotte and involved priests who had some connection to the diocese but were not serving in the diocese at the time of the alleged incidents,” the diocese said in a statement.

“As we have done since the passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002, we will review this and any new information about alleged incidents of abuse or misconduct that comes to us from any source to determine if a credible allegation exists.”

The diocese thanked SNAP for its advocacy work and urged other victims to report it to authorities.

While some maintain that publicly naming accused priests only deepens the harm to their victims, Anctil, who said he was victimized 64 years ago, said the opposite is true.

“There’s a great weight off our shoulders when we see the name of a pedophile in the media,” he said. “It also means that someone is listening.”

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