Charlotte Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Charlotte Diocese parishioners turn to their religious leaders of the Roman Catholic Church for guidance on living a holier life on their spiritual journey. The Church provides instruction and forgiveness by revered priests and other clergy members by sharing Bible passages and Holy Communion as a way to strengthen faith. Sadly, clergy sexual molestation is a serious problem in the Diocese of Charlotte that has hurt the congregation and others for decades.
Over seventy years ago, the Catholic Church, including in western North Carolina, evaded the efforts by local law enforcement to investigate credible allegations of sexual misconduct among the clergy. Church officials often failed to turn over much-needed evidence to hold priests, bishops, cardinals, and other religious leaders accountable for their immoral behavior.
Their stonewalling of Church officials and religious orders efforts failed to protect children and young adults from the heinous actions of a predatory priest.
As a result, the Church’s child molesters were given free rein to continue their inappropriate behavior with easy access to the most vulnerable parishioners. Within the last decade, the Vatican, through the guidance of Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope John Paul II, have provided new regulations on how the local Bishops identify and stop abusers in the congregation.
A Catholic Diocese of Charlotte Child Sex Abuse Attorney Can Help
The compassionate legal team at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents victims of child sex abuse to ensure they are adequately compensated for their damages. Our law firm has collected over $250 million in negotiated settlements and court trial verdict on behalf of our clients. Let us help your family too.
Our law offices accept all claims and lawsuits contingency fee arrangements. This agreement ensures that you avoid paying our legal fees until after we have resolved your case for financial compensation successfully.
The Charlotte Diocese
The Charlotte Diocese manages over ninety parishes and missions across forty-six counties that include Albemarle, Asheville, Boone, Gastonia, Greensboro, Hickory, Mecklenburg, Salisbury, Smoky Mountain, and Winston-Salem.
Recently, the Diocese created a safe environment to protect children and their congregation with the pledge to heal the problems created by clergy sexual misconduct and abuse. Church members adopted procedures and policies as safeguards and assigned a Victim Assistance Coordinator to provide help to survivors of sexual abuse. The coordinator can be reached at:
David Herold, LCSW
Contacting the Victim Assistance Coordinator and leaving a message can initiate a response from officials at the Roman Catholic Church within forty-eight hours. However, if your alleged abuse case involves an emergency, it is crucial to contact 911, your local child sexual abuse hotline, or the national new hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.
In addition to providing protection to children, the Diocese of Charlotte also offers training for adults to quickly recognize sexual abuse of children and take steps to prevent it immediately. The Church requires every employee and volunteer in regular contact with minors to participate in the mandatory workshop training.
The Lifelong Silence of the Sexual Abuse Survivor
Many victims of child sex abuse remain silent for years or decades after the assault occurred. Often, their silence is the result of their sexual abuser using the fear of God and the power of the Roman Catholic Church never to discuss with others what happened. The victim’s silence can empower the predatory priest to continue to harm them and other vulnerable children and young people.
In some incidents, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte Lay Review Board will initiate a church tribunal to investigate the sexual molestation involving a minor. The Diocese’s Lay Review Board’s final judgment might be released to the public after Church officials speak to lay staff, gather evidence, complete a file review, depose witnesses, and listen to pertinent testimony and full accounting from the alleged sexual abuse survivor.
Only then will the Charlotte Diocese’s Lay Review Board make a final determination if the allegations of sexual abuse are credible and offer recommendations on how the Bishop should deal with the problem.
For many years, the Bishop of the Diocese would remain mute and not take action to protect the children of sexual misconduct until or unless the evidence presented was credible. It was only then that they might turn the names of clergy members with abuse allegations over to a grand jury or the local District Attorney’s Office to be held legally accountable.
By then, many years had often passed since the molestation happened, long after the state statute of limitations had expired to file criminal charges or a civil lawsuit. In these cases, even if the victim stepped forward to say what occurred, the charges were dropped, or a sexual abuse lawsuit was dismissed because of the statute of limitation problems.
Defining Sexual Abuse in North Carolina
In North Carolina, sexual abuse is defined as an offense where a predator subjects a victim(s) to abusive and unwanted sexual acts that might include any inappropriate behavior from groping to sodomy and rape. The predator can face first-degree or second-degree rape charges.
First-degree rape involves non-consensual attacks were a deadly weapon is involved, and the victim is seriously injured. The state recognizes statutory rape as a first-degree rape charge when the victim is twelve years old or younger, and the predator is at least twelve years old and at least four years older than the sexual abuse survivor.
Second-degree rape under North Carolina state statutes involves forcible non-consensual sex with an innocent victim who cannot provide consent due to their physical helplessness, incapacitation, or mental disability. Additional information on sex crimes in North Carolina can be found under the state’s General Statute §14-27.21.
The law uses the words “sexual conduct” to describe vaginal intercourse between females and males and other types of intercourse activity regardless of gender. By law, an abused child is any minor involved in “sexual activity” who might exhibit evidence of mental or physical injury. The law uses the words “sexual conduct” to describe vaginal intercourse between females and males and other types of intercourse activity regardless of gender.
Sexual contact identifies inappropriate touching of another individual’s erogenous zone that could extend to the pubic area, buttocks, genitals, thigh, or breasts (female) when attempting to arouse or gratify either individual sexually.
Nearly everyone is required to report inappropriate sexual activity involving a minor, including family members, friends, healthcare professionals, school psychologists, schoolteachers, guardians, and investigative agencies.
Sexual Violence Laws in North Carolina
The Department of Justice for North Carolina provides many avenues for sexual abuse survivors to protect their legal rights and seek justice. Sexual assault and rape victims can take legal action to ensure that sexual abuse stops.
Local law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office can hold the sexual abuser responsible for the crimes committed against the victim and take measures to ensure that the abuse survivors received justice. The state uses forensic biology and DNA testing to establish a link between the victim and the alleged sexual predator.
In 2019, the state legislature proposed a new bill to initiate the Survivor Act (Standing up for Rape Victims Act) that requires local law enforcement agencies to use sexual assault kits. The bill was enacted into law in North Carolina in January 2019.
Current Lawsuits Filed against the Diocese of Charlotte
In April 2020, the Charlotte Observer published new information involving a lawsuit claim filed against the Diocese, under the guidance of Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis involving incidents with child sexual molestation by clergy members. The lawsuit was filed by two adult males who claimed that Church officials, including Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis, knew or should have known that there were predatory priests among the congregation.
In 2011 and 2012, the same alleged victims filed a civil lawsuit against the Diocese of Charlotte and religious orders without revealing who they were. By 2014, the court dismissed their cases, citing the statute of limitations had already expired on the alleged incidents. Since the sexual abuse occurred, the men carried the burden of sexual abuse even though the Church knew the names of their abusers.
However, in November 2019, the legislative branch of North Carolina created a two-year open window on civil actions involving child sexual molestation even if the statute of limitations had expired. By December of that year, the Diocese of Charlotte released an updated list of clergy members with credible accusations of child sex abuse.
The list contained the names of fourteen priests known to be sexual predators. Many of them are dead or retired. The Charlotte Diocese today continues to update their lists when new abuse allegations and sexual abuse lawsuits arise. One sexual abuse lawsuit involved Reverend Farwell.
One of the plaintiffs in the newly filed lawsuit attempted to commit suicide multiple times in response to the sexual abuse that occurred years before.
Hiring a Diocese of Charlotte Sexual Abuse Injury Attorney
If you are the victim of sexual molestation, harmed by a clergy member or another religious leader, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help. Our legal team has years of experience, ensuring that our clients receive adequate financial compensation to cover their damages through a civil lawsuit.
Contact our law office today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free case evaluation without an obligation to move forward. We will provide a private setting to listen in confidence about what happened.
Did a priest, seminarian, brother, deacon, or another clergy leader sexually molest you years ago? Has the North Carolina statute of limitations expired on your case? If so, we can use our comprehensive understanding of North Carolina tort law to provide numerous options on how to receive a monetary recovery for your damages.
We currently accept all claims and lawsuits for the status of the sexual predator is in “active ministry,” resigned from duty, on a leave of absence, laicized (removed from the priesthood), relocated to another diocese, parish, country, or state, whereabouts unknown, or deceased.
List of Clergy Abusers in the Diocese of Charlotte
Donald Philip Baker
In 2019, the Diocese of Charlotte publicly named Father Donald Philip Baker with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. In March 2017, the Charlotte Diocese received information that Reverend Baker sexually molested an underage male between 1986 and 1989. During the time of the sexual assault, Baker was assigned to the Lenoir, North Carolina St. Francis of Assisi Parish. At the time of his death, the Reverend was living in Arizona after relocating to the area in 1991. Before he left the ministry in 1994, Father Donald Baker was assigned to the Diocese of Phoenix.
Current Status: Left active ministry: 1994
Charles Jeffries Burton
In June 2007, Church officials placed Father Charles Jeffries Burton on administrative leave in Richmond, Virginia, after reviewing his personnel file. The file revealed accusations of inappropriately touching an underage child in 1982. At the time of the alleged assault, Reverend Burton worked as the Charlotte Diocese Director of the Boy Scouts and Youth Ministry. In 1994, the Church was informed of the accusations. At that time, the Reverend acknowledged he had misbehaved. Church officials sent Father Burton for therapy before reassigning him to the Diocese of Camden. His name appears on the December 2019 Diocese of Charlotte list, February 2019 Diocese of Richmond list, February 2019 Archdiocese of Baltimore list, and the December 2018 Jesuit Maryland Province list.
Current Status: Died: 2011
Eugene D. Corbesero
In 1983, the Vatican laicized (defrocked – removed from the priesthood) Father Eugene D. Corbesero two years after he left the Consolata Society for Foreign Missions Order. He was later married. In June 2007, Reverend Corbesero pled guilty to the charge of sexually molesting a twelve-year-old male in New Jersey in April 2006. In October 2007, the court sentenced Father Corbesero to five years in prison. At the time of the trial, prosecutors attempted to obtain the Reverend’s personnel files from the time when he had similar problems during the 1970s. However, the judge denied the prosecutor’s motion for that discovery. During Reverend Corbesero’s career, he worked in five states at numerous parishes. His name appears on the December 2019 Charlotte Diocese’s list with a 1995 report revealing he sexually abused an underage boy sometime between 1973 and 1975. At that time of the alleged assault, Church officials had assigned Corbesero at the Charlotte, NC Our Lady of Consolation Parish.
Current Status: Died: 2016
Aloysius Joseph D’Silva
In 2019, the Diocese of Charlotte publicly named Father Aloysius Joseph D’Silva with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. Church officials from the Diocese of Charlotte revealed that, in 1998, the Church received information from an underage female saying that D’Silva kissed and touched her at the Lindell, NC Saint Bernadette Catholic Mission. The Church also indicated that at the time that the information was received, they could not substantiate the accusation. Church documents dated 2019 indicate that the allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct were found to be credible.
Current Status: Died: 2005
Richard B. Farwell
In May 1985, Church officials from the Diocese of Charlotte placed Father Richard B. Farwell on administrative leave. The Church announced that the Reverend had been reassigned to a “priestly ministry program” in Rhode Island. However, the Church actually reassigned the Father to the Massachusetts House of Affirmation Treatment Center. In September 1988, the Church allowed Reverend Farwell to return to active ministry in the Charlotte Diocese. Eleven years later, in February 1999, the priest faced accusations of sexual misconduct involving a boy nineteen years before. At the time of the alleged assault, the child was 10 to 12 years of age. In 2000, the Diocese of Charlotte reassigned Reverend Farwell to the Archdiocese of Miami by reference of Bishop Curlin. In 2002, his accuser resurfaced, making the same allegations. That year, in April, the Church revoked Farwell’s faculties. Four months later, law enforcement charged Reverend Farwell with “indecent liberties” involving an underage male during the 1980s. In November 2004, the Reverend pled no contest and received a 180 days probation sentence that included community service and counseling. In September 2011, Father Farwell was named in a civil lawsuit. The priest faced allegations that he sexually molested an altar boy in the early 1980s and began grooming him when the boy was fourteen years of age. The sexual abuse occurred after the altar boy confided in Farwell, saying that a truck driver had raped him while he was hitchhiking. That victim filed a civil lawsuit in April 2020. Father Richard B. Farwell’s name appears on the December 2019 Charleston Diocese list.
Current Status: Convicted
In 2019, the Diocese of Charlotte publicly named Father John Gallagher with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. In September 1971, Reverend Gallagher faced accusations of inappropriately touching an underage minor at Monroe, NC Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. At that time, he was filling in as a weekend priest. The female victim’s family did not press charges against the Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri (Oratorians) priest. At that time, the Church was part of the Diocese of Raleigh before the Diocese of Charlotte was created. After the allegations arose, the Reverend’s Order restricted his active ministry. His name appears on the December 2019 Diocese of Charleston list.
Current Status: Died
P. Patrick Gavigan
In 2019, the Diocese of Charlotte publicly named Father P. Patrick Gavigan with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. In 2000, Church officials received an allegation that Reverend Gavigan had sexually molested an underage female in 1973 while at Greensboro, NC Our Lady of Grace Parish. The priest denied the accusation. By 2002, he was residing in a North Carolina nursing home, and his ministry was restricted access to minors. In 1972, the Trappist-ordained was incardinated into the Diocese of Charlotte. He died in 2007.
Current Status: Died: 2007
Patrick T. Hoare
In December 2019, Church officials for the Diocese of Charlotte placed Father Patrick T. Hoare on administrative leave after allegations arose that he sexually assaulted an underage child twenty-five years before. At the time the accusations arose, he served in Charlotte, NC as pastor at Saint Matthew’s Parish. The alleged sexual misconduct occurred in Pennsylvania before he was ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. Father Patrick Hoare denied the allegations.
Current Status: Publicly accused of sexual misconduct
Adelbert (Del) Holmes
In 2019, the Diocese of Charlotte publicly named Father Adelbert (Del) Holmes with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. In November 2019, Reverend Holmes’ Order, the Glenmary Home Missioners, told officials at the Diocese of Charlotte that the Order had received accusations in 1988 of sexual misconduct involving the priest. The allegations indicate that Father Holmes had sexually molested three underage children in Murphy, North Carolina, in 1976. Additionally, there were also accusations of abuse involving Holmes and his victims in Franklin, Kentucky. In 1991, Church officials removed Reverend Holmes from active ministry until he died in 2013.
Current Status: Died: 2013
Donald J. Joyce
One claimant accused Father Joyce of fondling and attempting to rape him while the victim served as an altar boy at a Lowell, NC parish. At the time of the alleged assault between 1977 and 1979, the victim was eleven to thirteen years of age. From at least 2002 until 2011, Father Joyce served the Roman Catholic Church as a San Antonio, TX Director of Libraries at Oblique College. During Reverend Joyce’s career, he was assigned to numerous parishes in San Antonio, Texas, Charlotte, North Carolina, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Washington DC, Boston, and the Diocese of Buffalo. His name appears on the January 2011 Law Offices of Mitchell Garabedian list of credibly accused priests. The attorneys’ law office settled at least one claim for compensation involving Joyce and the Archdiocese of Boston. In January 2011, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate barred Reverend Joyce from working as a priest. The Reverend’s name was admitted from the Archdiocese of Boston database beginning in 2011. As of December 2019, his name appears on the Diocese of Charlotte list with accusations received in 2002 that he sexually molested an underage male between 1973 and 1976 while at the Wadesboro, NC Sacred Hearts Catholic Mission.
Current Status: Died: 2013
John Brian Kaup
In February 2017, Semanarium John Brian Kaup faced accusations in a civil lawsuit that he sexually molested and assaulted an underage girl on Christmas Day 2013. The alleged incident involved a seventeen-year-old victim who was molested in the parking lot of the Salisbury, NC Sacred Heart Church. At the time of the alleged assault, then twenty-seven-year-old Seminarian Kaup was a church youth minister. The lawsuit accuses Kaup of continuing sexual molestation in incidents that involved the girl until the middle of 2014. In 2016, the police investigation failed to produce charges. In May 2014, Kaup left the seminary a began working as a Huntersville Parish youth minister. Church officials that the Diocese of Charlotte maintain that the Huntersville parish pastor was unaware of Kaup’s accusations. That year, Kaup left his summer job. After his name appeared in a civil lawsuit, Kaup countersued, claiming that he and the alleged victim were in a dating relationship that had been approved by the girl’s parents.
Current Status: Named in a civil lawsuit
Michael Joseph Kelleher
In September 2010, Church officials from the Diocese of Charlotte removed Father Michael Joseph Kelleher from his position has Bishop McGuinness High School chaplain after allegations arose that he sexually molested an underage male in 1977. The alleged incident occurred in Albemarle, North Carolina, when the victim was fourteen years old. The Church had assigned Reverend Kelleher at the high school between April 1973 and August 1977. In September 2009, the victim notified the police and told the Diocese of Charlotte sometime after. In September 2010, law enforcement filed charges against Father Kelleher. That month, he was arrested and released on bail. One week later, he faced a similar allegation from a second accuser. However, there were no charges filed in that case. In September 2011, both men sued Reverend Kelleher and the Roman Catholic Church. The priest admitted that he had been involved in sexual abuse in 1977. Other multiple accusers stepped forward. In 2012, an additional two men filed another civil lawsuit. However, that suit was dismissed in 2014 due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. After Kelleher confessed to the allegations to local law enforcement, the case was dismissed due to his dementia. The Ireland-born Trappist monk worked for many years in New Zealand and Ireland before leaving the Trappist Order. His name appears on the October 2018 Diocese of Raleigh list and the December 2019 Diocese of Charlotte list. Although the priest passed away in 2014, another lawsuit was filed against him and the Roman Catholic Church in April 2020.
Current Status: Died: 2014
William J. Kuder
In 1995, Father William J. Kuder faced allegations that he sexually assaulted an underage male starting in 1952. The alleged incident occurred at the Asheville, NC Saint Joan of Arc Parish, when the alleged victim was nine to thirteen years of age. The allegation indicates that the abuse involved anal rape and oral sex. The accusation indicates that Reverend Kuder drove the child to different rectories twenty to fifty miles away and made his victim go to the door alone, seeking confession through “sex with the priest.” His alleged victim stated that the priest had threatened him with eternal damnation if he broke the “seal of confession.” The victim’s two brothers also indicated that Father Kuder had similarly sexually molested them when they were between the ages of nine and thirteen years old. In 1995, Bishop Curlin apologized to the congregation after the victim persuaded the Bishop to speak. The Bishop acknowledged that Reverend Kuder had sexually molested many children and referred to him as a serial pedophile. Before his death in 1960, Kuder worked for the Diocese of Raleigh that encompassed all the parishes in North Carolina before the Diocese of Charlotte was created. His name appears on the October 2018 Diocese of Raleigh list, and the December 2019 Diocese of Charlotte list.
Current Status: Died: 1960
Peter Tan Van Le
In 2019, the Diocese of Charlotte publicly named Father Peter Tan Van Le with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. In 2013, Church officials for the Diocese of Charlotte received an allegation that Reverend Peter Tan Van Le sexually molested multiple underage children while he was at the St. Joseph Vietnamese Catholic Church. In August 2013, the Church removed the priest’s faculties and notified the Diocese of Vinh Long in Vietnam, his home diocese. Tan Van Le retired to his home diocese in Vietnam in 2011.
Current Status: Publicly accused of sexual misconduct
Patrick F. Leonard
In September 2003, Church officials for the Diocese of Charlotte removed Father Patrick F. Leonard from active ministry after receiving a credible allegation that he sexually molested an underage child in 1982 in New York. However, it was not until March 2004 that Church officials told parishioners the reason for his removal. At that time, another woman stepped forward, alleging that Reverend Leonard had spoken to her in a lewd manner.
Current Status: Publicly accused of sexual misconduct
Damion Jacques Lynch
Father Damion Jacques Lynch was named in a 1998 civil lawsuit alleging that the Reverend had sexually assaulted twin brothers between 1991 and 1995. At the time of the alleged assault, the underage minors were in their early teens. In 1995, Reverend Lynch reported his indiscretion to Charlotte Diocese Bishop Curlin, who attempted to resolve the priest’s criminal activity by speaking with the victims’ family. The Church sent Father Lynch to residential treatment before his reassignment in 1997 in the Diocese of Charlotte. However, the priest asked for an additional leave of absence in February 1998. In 1996, the Charlotte Diocese resolved the case for $77,489. An additional 1999 lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount. In 2002, Reverend Lynch reportedly left the priesthood. In 2009, the Vatican laicized (defrocked – removed from the priesthood) Lynch. By 2017 he was working at MedStar Washington Hospital as a registered nurse and residing in Alexandria, Virginia. In March 2019, an adult male filed a police report accusing Reverend Lynch and Jesuit Order Reverend Cornell Bradley of sexually molesting him in the 1990s when he was a teenager. Father Damion Jacques Lynch’s name appears on the December 2019 Charlotte Diocese list.
Current Status: Named in a civil lawsuit
Donald F. Scales
In 2019, the Diocese of Richmond publicly named Father Donald F. Scales with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. Richmond Roman Catholic Church officials had received information from the Charlotte Diocese Review Board that found credible accusations against the priest. During his career, he had been assigned to both parishes. In 2006, Reverend Scales faced allegations of sexually molesting an underage child between 1977 and 1978 at the Gastonia, NC Saint Michaels Parish. Church officials removed Father Scales from active ministry. However, he denied the accusations. His name appears on the October 2019 updated Raleigh Diocese’s list with notes involving abuse that happened in 1966, outside of the Diocese. The Church received the report in 2019. His name also appears on the December 2019 Diocese of Charlotte list.
Current Status: Died: 2008
Edward William (Ed) Smith
In 2019, the Diocese of Charlotte publicly named Father Edward William (Ed) Smith with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. Church documents dated December 2014 revealed a report that Reverend Ed Smith sexually molested an underage male in the 1960s while the two were on Boy Scout camping trip. Documents also reveal that in late 2018, the priest’s Order, the Glenmary Home Missioners, told the Diocese of Charlotte that it received accusations in 1993 of his sexual misconduct that occurred in the 1960s. The inappropriate sexual activity allegedly occurred at Boone Creek during summer youth camp. An additional allegation report in 2001 involved sexual molestation in Boone, North Carolina, in 1963. At that time, Father Smith served as the Saint Elizabeth Parish pastor. His name appears on the updated February 2020 Diocese of Raleigh list.
Current Status: Died: 1975
In April 2008, local law enforcement arrested Father Robert Yurgel on charges of sexual molestation involving an underage male in 1999. At the time of the alleged assault involving a fourteen-year-old victim, Reverend Yurgel was assigned to the Charlotte, NC St. Matthew Parish, between 1997 and 1999. At the end of his time at the parish, Church officials transferred him out of the Diocese of Charlotte. At the time of his arrest, he was serving the Roman Catholic Church as a Passaic, NJ St. Mary’s Parish chaplain. The court system extradited Father Yurgel from New Jersey to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was released on bail. In October 2008, the victim filed a civil lawsuit against the priest, his order (the Capuchin Franciscan), and the Diocese of Charlotte. The alleged sexual abuse survivor claims that Church officials that the Diocese of Charlotte were well aware of his sexual misconduct before reassigning him to New Jersey, claiming that the case was covered up. In February 2009, Father Yurgel pled guilty to a single count and received a sentence of up to ten years in prison. In May 2010, the lawsuit was settled for $1.3 million. The Capuchin Franciscan Order paid $230,000, and the Diocese of Charlotte paid the victim $1 million. In August 2016, the Corrections Department released Reverend Capuchin from incarceration. Three months later, he relocated from North Carolina to New Jersey. In 2010, the Capuchin Franciscan Order laicized (defrocked – removed from the priesthood) Yurgel.
Current Status: Arrested for sexual misconduct