Wednesday, April 3, 2019

SNAP Holds Media Event in Charlotte: Bishop Peter Jugis Endangering Children by Refusing to List Names of Predator Priests

An update for you about the continuing refusal of the Catholic diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, to release a list of names of predator priests who have served in that diocese — even after the second in command in that diocese, Monsignor Mauricio West, stepped down from his position as chancellor last week (and here) after the diocesan review board found credible allegations that he sexually abused a student at Belmont Abbey College when he was Vice-President for Student Affairs there in the 1980s.

At the time, West was a monk of the Belmont Abbey monastery, which owns Belmont Abbey College. Last month, it came out that the names of two more monks at Belmont Abbey had appeared on lists of priests accused of abuse in Virginia, when those lists were released. One of these, Father Frederick George, was brought back to Belmont Abbey monastery in 1991 after allegations were made against him in 1987, and was then made chaplain of Belmont Abbey College in 1994!

As SNAP and local media in Charlotte are reporting today, SNAP members held a media event in Charlotte yesterday calling on Bishop Peter Jugis to do the right thing to protect young people in the Charlotte diocese, and at long last, release a list of priests in the Charlotte diocese credibly accused of abusing minors. SNAP's statement about this event is here. As it indicates, Jugis is putting young people at risk by refusing to reveal the names of predator priests. 

Reports about the SNAP media event in Charlotte yesterday are in the Charlotte Observer today, and also at the websites of WSOC and WCNC television networks.  As the latter report states, the response of the Charlotte diocese to SNAP's media event was to state — and isn't this curious? — that a list of predator priests with ties to Charlotte released by SNAP yesterday had all served outside the Charlotte diocese and were not serving in the Charlotte diocese at the time allegations were made against them.

And then the WCNC report concludes:

Last week, Monsignor Mauricio West, second in command of the diocese, stepped down after nearly 25 years after allegations of sexual misconduct linked to an adult student at Belmont Abbey College.

Monsignor West, chancellor of the Charlotte diocese, stepped down last week after the diocesan review board found credbile allegations that he abused a student at Belmont Abbey College in the Charlotte diocese. You'd think, wouldn't you, that after this story has just broken in the news, the Charlotte diocese would be a bit abashed about trying to convince the public that there are no abuse cases from within the Charlotte diocese to report — that all such cases involving priests with ties to Charlotte have occurred outside the Charlotte diocese.

As a matter of fact, one of the names on the list released by SNAP yesterday is Father Timothy Kelly. Kelly was administrator of the Belmont Abbey monastery at the time I was hired to chair that school's theology department in 1991. He had been sent there from St. John's Abbey in Minnesota because there was such turmoil inside the Belmont Abbey monastery that it was not permitted to elect an abbot and had been placed under an outside administrator until it could get its act together.

Kelly returned to St. John's in 1992 to assume the position of abbot there, and in 2011, a lawsuit was filed by a man in the Bronx who claimed that Kelly had abused him in 1966 when he pastored a parish there. SNAP's media statement linked above provides details about this case and two links with further documentation.

What is Bishop Peter Jugis hiding as he refuses to release lists of predator priests in the Charlotte diocese?

As a footnote to the recent news about the resignation of diocesan chancellor Monsignor West, see also the valuable reports of Charlotte attorney Seth Langson at his blog  (here and here) and reports in the New York Times and the Washington Post to which Langson points in his postings. 

The Charlotte diocese may think it can count on the local media to forget about Jugis' refusal to release a list of names of predatory priests, since the media in the Charlotte area have long been pliable and compliant when it comes to refusing to pursue stories critical of the Charlotte diocese and the monks at Belmont Abbey.

But this is a story that has now gotten national and international attention. It's not going to go away.

And the longer Jugis continues to refuse to release his list of names and to have his spokesman issue silly statements about how abuse hasn't really touched the Charlotte diocese but has occurred only outside the boundaries of the diocese, the more people are going to ask — and ever more loudly — what he's hiding.

(The video at the head of the posting is from the WCNC article linked above. The WSOC article also features video coverage of SNAP's media event in Charlotte yesterday.)

No comments: