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Raleigh Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer

Diocese of RaleighMany parishioners in the Roman Catholic Church seek out spiritual guidance from their religious leaders who celebrate the Holy Eucharist and accept the sacraments in the holy name of Jesus. Every cardinal, Bishop, pastor, parish priest, religious sister, and other active and former clergy member hears the congregation’s confessions and provide counseling on how to live a more spiritual life.

Unfortunately, many Catholic priests use the power given to them by the Church to abuse, sodomize, molest, and rape innocent children and young adults.

Sexual Abuse Attorneys Hold Clergy Abusers Accountable

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC provides legal advocacy for sexually abused survivors throughout North Carolina, including those in the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh. We use our extensive comprehensive understanding of tort law and years of experience to protect our client’s rights and ensure their personal privacy.

Our law firm remains committed to ensuring victims get justice and receive the most financial compensation available. If you are the victim of sexual assault and harmed by the Catholic clergy, our attorneys can help manage your case. Let us begin the process of protecting your rights today.

The Roman Catholic Church Initiates Measures to Stop Molestation

It took the Vatican, under the guidance of Pope Francis, until the summer of 2019 to start protecting victims from predatory priests engaging in sexual misconduct. Before the Vatican released new regulations on how to handle criminal sexual activity among the clergy, Diocesan Bishops would handle these cases locally and often hide the evidence from local law enforcement. Their actions often failed to protect the victim, who might repeatedly be sexually assaulted by the same predator.

It took an Apostolic Nunciature announcement to stop the child abuse caused by the Church’s global policies of conducting internal investigations to hold their molesting priest accountable. Usually, the Bishop would not take any action until after a tribunal court hearing or Diocesan Review Board judgment deemed that there were credible accusations against the priest.

This disastrous inaction often allowed the predatory priest to remain among parishioners and continue sexually molesting vulnerable adults and young children. In some incidents, the sexual molester would abuse multiple victims while at the same Parish. Other times, the Bishops would relocate or reassign the priest to a new location and place new parishioners at the new Church in harm’s way.

The Diocese of Raleigh

The Roman Catholic Church in North Carolina is divided into two regional dioceses that are in the major cities of Charlotte and Raleigh. The Diocese of Raleigh encompasses the eastern portion of North Carolina. Since its inception, the Diocese has been managed by six Bishops, including William Hafey, Eugene McGuinness, Vincent Waters, Francis Gossman, Michael Burbidge, and Luis Rafael Zarama.

The Diocese encompasses fifty-four counties across North Carolina, including Brunswick, Columbus, Sampson, Craven, Wilson, Cumberland, Washington, Beaufort, Halifax, Northampton, Granville, Hyde, Hertford, Vance, Person, Caswell, Pasquotank, Tyrrell, Dare, Nash, Bertie, Hoke, Lee, Moore, Jones, Gates, and Durham. The Bishop manages four campus ministry centers, ninety-seven parishes and missions, and eight deaneries.

Defining Child Sexual Abuse

By law, the child sexual abuse is defined as intentional mistreatment or harm of a female or male who is seventeen years or younger. Sexual assault occurs in a single event, or repeatedly by one or more predators. Typically, innocent children who have been previously sexually abused are more at risk of being re-victimized with repeated sexual assaults by the same predator or another abuser compared to others.

Also, vulnerable, disabled young and old adults are at a heightened risk of being a sexually abused survivor, especially if they are challenged in language or speech. Sexual molestation of an innocent victim is not always a physical action. Clergy members can also sexually assault those chatting on websites or engaging in social media.

In many incidents, sexual predators will use his or her online activity to capture a potential victim’s interest. Over time, the abuser will groom their victim to “ready” them for physical contact or sharing inappropriate pornography or other sexual content.

It is vital for members of the congregation, especially parents, to identify the common indicators of predatory priests and other religious leaders in the congregation. Some of these indicators include:

  • The priest will leave their innocent victim physically injured with vaginal or anal bleeding, sexually transmitted diseases, or genital bruising.
  • Sexually abused survivors often experience high anxiety, become depressed, display aggressiveness or anger, develop sleep disturbance behaviors, change their eating habits, or live a life in fear of being alone when a specific individual is around.
  • Sexually abused survivors of nearly any age might resort to thumb-sucking or bedwetting.
  • The victim might display signs of low self-esteem or be challenged in maintaining an active friendship or sexual relationship with others.
  • Some sexually abused survivors strongly rebel against authority or live a life of withdrawal from society.
  • Some of the crucial indirect indicators of physical and sexual assault might involve uncontrollable urinating accidents, intense headaches, recurrent/persistent pain during bowel movements, or intense chronic stomach pain.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Nearly two decades ago, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops finally acted on solving some of the problems associated with clergy members with an accusation of sexual abuse. The Bishops created the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that studied complex issues involving sexual molestation of minors who were harmed by religious leaders now and in the past.

The sexually abused survivor advocacy group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) revealed that between 1950 and 1970, at least 66% of all priests ordained in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States faced accusations of sexual molestation involving children and vulnerable adults.

Manage predatory priests in the United States are found to have credible allegations of sexually assaulting a single victim. However, there are priests, bishops, cardinals, pastors, seminarians, brothers, deacons, and other religious leaders accused of sexually assaulting dozens or more innocent victims.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops found that approximately 33% of all priests on their predator list had psychological and behavioral problems that would cause them to behave sexually inappropriate with innocent souls.

New Information on Raleigh Diocese Clergy Abusers

In December 2019, the Winston-Salem Journal published new information on religious leaders in North Carolina facing an event of an allegation of child abuse. Three Reverends served the Roman Catholic Church as high school chaplains. Some had worked at the Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School and other parishes throughout the community.

All the credibly accused priests in the published article had connections to Forsyth and Winston-Salem counties. The priests, including Louis Bonacci, Andre Corbin, Joseph Kelleher, William Ward, and Harold McGovern, were either removed from active ministry by Church officials or they had already died when the list became public.

Church officials at the Diocese reviewed hundreds of Church files for over a year. Some of the information dated back five decades, back to the time when their churches that are now in the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte were managed by the Raleigh Diocese.

Charlotte Diocese Bishop Peter J. Jugis stated in response to the article that “it is painful even to try to comprehend such gravely immoral behavior. However, in speaking with survivors and hearing their stories, it is clear to me that making known the names of their abusers can promote healing for [the victims] and their families.”

Other priests that were named in the list had been assigned to parishes throughout Northwest North Carolina. These priests with credible allegations of sexual misconduct included Reverend Hugh Dolan, Reverend John Hyland, Reverend Patrick Gavigan, Reverend Damion Lynch, Reverend Edward Smith, Reverend Donald Baker, Reverend Francis Bourbon, Reverend Cornell Bradley, Reverend Anthony Jablonowski, Reverend William Kuder, Reverend James O’Neill, Reverend Kenneth Parker, Reverend Justin Pechulis, and Reverend John Rutledge.

Is the List of Clergy Abusers Incomplete?

In May 2020, Advocates from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests sent a letter to the Charlotte Diocese with concerns at Church officials had neglected to place nine additional clergymen on the list of abusers that was released in December 2019.

The advocacy group says it is always searching for transparency and openness by the Roman Catholic Church to help sexual abuse survivors and the family members living with victims of sexual assault. The organization works to ensure that children and vulnerable adults receive the protection they need from sexual predators as a part of their healing.

If you were injured through a sexual assault by a clergy member or anyone else, it is crucial to receive help immediately. Does your alleged abuse case involve an emergency? If so, contact 911, your local child sexual abuse hotline, or the national new hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

Hiring a Diocese of Raleigh Sexual Abuse Attorney

Were you sexually harmed by a Diocese of Raleigh priest, deacon, brother, or another religious leader? If so, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help. Contact our team of experienced sexual abuse attorneys today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a no-obligation, free consultation. Within the last few years, we have obtained more than $250 million on behalf of our clients and can help you too.

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.

Let us provide a confidential, safe environment setting where we can listen to your horrific story to provide legal advice on how to move your case forward. We can provide numerous opportunities to resolve your case for compensation. Our lawyers will start an investigation, gather evidence, obtain depositions, and build a strong case to ensure you receive justice.

We accept every case where the religious leader’s current status is in “active ministry,” whereabouts unknown, placed on administrative leave, left the Church, removed from the priesthood (laicized), already retired, relocated to another diocese in a different country or state, or it is deceased.

List of Clergy Abusers in the Diocese of Raleigh

Andre Anthony CorbinOrdained: 1961
In 1988, law enforcement criminally charged Father Andre Anthony Corbin with sexually molesting a five-year-old boy in 1996. At the time of the alleged assault, Reverend Corbin was assigned to a Diocese of Raleigh parish. The court sentenced Father Corbin to three years in jail. However, he served only two months. Afterward, he was placed on five years probation and then ordered to receive continued treatment at the Saint Luke’s Institute. The charges allege that the priest dressed up underage males in loincloths to depict a crucified Jesus Christ. In 1988, Church officials at the Diocese of Charlotte removed Reverend Corbin’s faculties. In December 2003, he was named in a civil lawsuit filed in Springfield, MA. Church officials in Massachusetts settled that that claim in August 2004 as a part of the massive $7.75 million plaintiff settlement to resolve numerous cases. In May 2008, at the age of seventy-nine, Father Corbin died in a fire. The October 2019 Diocese of Raleigh list revealed that Church officials became aware in 1988 of Father Andre Corbin’s abusive behavior in 1966. Between 1962 and 1964, Church officials had placed Corbin on sick leave after he had been assigned to the Newton Grove, NC Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, and missions. He was later assigned to the Diocese of Charlotte. Between 1970 1993, the Church had placed Reverend Corbin on administrative leave. However, there are no records to indicate his whereabouts during that time. In 2002, Church officials in Springfield, Massachusetts, began planning Corbin’s reassignment as a supply priest. However, soon afterward, the Church received allegations of sexual misconduct.

Current Status: Died: 2008


Peter Martin DengesOrdained: 1927
In 2019, the Diocese of Raleigh publicly named Monsignor Peter Martin Denges with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. Church officials found a “semblance of truth” that was documented in their October 2018 list involving Reverend Denges’ inappropriate sexual activity. In 2005, the Church indicated that there officials had received allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct involving Monsignor Denges involving incidents that occurred in 1950. At that time, Monsignor Denges served as pastor at the Roanoke Rapids, NC St. John the Baptist Parish that had additional stations and missions in Weldon, Littleton, and Halifax. During the Monsignor’s career, he also served as the Dean at the Eastern Deanery. In 1951, Church officials assigned Denges as the Southern Pines Saint Anthony of Padua Parish pastor and Dean at the Raleigh Deanery. Between 1929 and 1949, the Monsignor operated the Abell, Maryland Camp Denges in the Archdiocese of Washington with Monsignor Joseph Denges, his brother.

Current Status: Died: 1985


Hugh A. DolanOrdained: 1934
In 2019, the Diocese of Raleigh publicly named Monsignor Hugh A. Dolan with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim.  Church officials found a “semblance of truth” that was documented in its October 2018 Diocese list. Church documents from 2004 revealed allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct involving Ireland-native Monsignor Dolan. At the time of the alleged assault, Monsignor Dolan served the Roman Catholic Church as the Greensboro, NC Saint Pius X Parish pastor. That Parish is now managed by the Diocese of Charlotte. This Parish was also involved in other sexual abuse cases involving Father John Highland (2002 allegations of abuse occurring in 1964). Between 1960 and 1975, Monsignor Dolan served as the founder and pastor of Saint Pius X. Monsignor Dolan’s name appears on the December 2019 Diocese of Charlotte list.

Current Status: Died: 1981


Stephen M. GarrityOrdained: 1970
In 2007, the Jesuits Order removed Father Stephen M. Garrity from active ministry while he was serving at the Durham, NC Holy Cross Parish. The Reverend admitted that he had been involved in inappropriate sexual conduct involving five young adults between eighteen and twenty-three years of age. The incidents occurred during the early 1980s while the Reverend was in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Church officials sent the priest to receive therapy. In January 2013, the Jesuit Order spoke with Church officials at the Diocese of Raleigh about the credible complaint of sexual misconduct involving a minor beginning in the 1970s while Father Garrity was in Philadelphia at St. Joseph’s Prep. Raleigh diocese church officials then sent Garrity to a monitored community until he died in 2014. His name appears on the December 2018 Maryland Province Jesuits list that revealed multiple allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior. Reverend Garrity’s name also appears on the December 2018 Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania list, the February 2019 Archdiocese of Baltimore list, and the October 2018 Diocese of Raleigh lists that also identified sexual abuse occurring in 1970 that was reported to the Diocese in 2018.

Current Status: Died: 2014


Giacomo GhisalbertiOrdained: 1970
In 2019, the Diocese of Raleigh publicly named Father Giacomo Ghisalberti with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. Church officials petition the Vatican for laicization (removal from the priesthood).

Current Status: Suspended from active ministry


Albert J. GondekOrdained: 1966
In 1993, an adult male spoke with Church officials at the Diocese of Raleigh. The man said that Father Albert J. Gondek had sexually molested him in Wilmington, North Carolina, during confession. Reverend Gondek’s Order, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, told the victim that the priest at undergone counseling. Years later, the alleged victim wrote to the Diocese after the Church had transferred Father Gondek there. Starting in 1998, Church officials assigned Reverend Gondek to a Lexington, NC Parish as its pastor. In October 2007, another alleged male victim claimed that Gondek had sexually assaulted him during his teen years in 1960 while at a Maryland summer camp. At that time, Gondek served the Roman Catholic Church as a seminarian. The Church placed Gondek on administrative leave. By December 2007, Church officials reinstated Reverend Gondek after investigators cleared the accusations. By December 2015, the Church suspended the priest after another alleged male victim stepped forward, saying he had been sexually assaulted by Gondek at eighteen years of age. This victim also told officials that the Reverend had sexually assaulted minors five years before. Local law enforcement initiated a criminal investigation. Gondek’s name appears on the October 2018 Diocese of Raleigh list.

Current Status: Accused of sexual misconduct


Jaime GuzmanOrdained: ?
In 2019, the Diocese of Raleigh publicly named Father Jaime Guzman with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. During Reverend Guzman’s career, the priest worked for the Raleigh Diocese. However, the accusations of sexual misconduct occurred outside of the Diocese of Raleigh. According to some records, Reverend Jaime Guzman might be the same priest listed on the Astaburuaga, SJ list from the Archdiocese of Santiago, Chile. That priest was found guilty by the Vatican in 2012 of sexually molesting Colegio San Ignacio El Bosque students, where he served as a Roman Catholic chaplain between 1984 and 1994.

Current Status: Publicly accused of sexual misconduct


Louis Hanneman

Ordained: ?
In 2019, the Diocese of Raleigh publicly named Father Louis Hanneman with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. In 2002, church officials became aware of the accusations of sexual misconduct that allegedly occurred in 1972.

Current Status: Publicly accused of sexual misconduct


John J. Hyland

Ordained: 1942
In 2019, the Diocese of Raleigh publicly named Father John J. Hyland with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. Around 2002, Church officials became aware of accusations of sexual misconduct involving Reverend Hyland in incidents that occurred in 1964. Church documents also revealed that there were “subsequent reports of abuse.” When the allegations arose, Father Hyland was living at the Greensboro, NC Saint Pius X Church, and was listed in the Diocese directory until 1973. Church officials then allowed the Reverend to retire until his death in November 1975. Records indicate that there were 312 students at the parish school in 1963 and 1964. Between 1972 and 1973, there were 302 students at the school. In 1971, management over the Saint Pius X Church was reassigned from the Diocese of Raleigh to the newly established Diocese of Charlotte. Father John J. Hyland’s name appears on the December 2019 Diocese of Charlotte list with allegations of sexual abuse documented in 2002. The abuse allegedly involved an underage female between 1964 and 1966 at the Greensboro Saint Pius X Parish.

Current Status: Died: 1975


James E. McSweeney

Ordained: 1950
In 2004, Father James E. McSweeney faced allegations of sexually assaulting an underage child for three years starting in 1970 when the boy was eleven years old. The alleged abuse involving the former Vicar General and Chancellor happened on trips, in his car, and at his rectory. During Reverend McSweeney’s career, he worked as a financial expert. Over his lifetime, he amassed almost $1 million before his death in 1999. In March 2004, one claim involving Father McSweeney was settled out of court for $120,000. Church documents show that there was a second accuser. The Diocese of Raleigh Bishop said that the accusations were credible. Reverend McSweeney’s name appears on the October 2018 Diocese of Raleigh list.

Current Status: Died: 1999


Kenneth R. Parker

Ordained: 1965
In November 2009, Father Kenneth R. Parker faced allegations that he sexually molested an underage child in 1982. The proper authorities were notified. However, even after the allegations arose, Reverend Parker was allowed to remain and active ministry, though in a limited capacity. The priest denied the accusations. By January 2010, the Roman Catholic Church removed Father Parker’s faculties after a review board investigation. During Parker’s career, he worked in both the  Charlotte and Raleigh dioceses. His name appears on the October 2018 Diocese of Raleigh list, and the December 2019 Diocese of Charlotte list.

Current Status: Accused of sexual misconduct


Francis Andrew Perry, III

Ordained: 1998
In April 2002, Church officials from the Diocese of Raleigh placed Father Francis Andrew Perry on administrative leave for lying on an application. Church officials had learned that Reverend Perry faced accusations of sexually molesting a four-year-old female relative in 1961 when he was a teenager. The priest had also faced allegations that he took indecent liberties with a teenage boy about fifteen years before. Law enforcement dropped the criminal charges after the victim refused to testify. Father “Drew” Perry admitted that he sexually molested a girl but denied the other charges. The Diocese of Raleigh sought a case review by the Vatican. Father Perry was ordained into the Roman Catholic Church in 1998 at the age of fifty-three. His name appears on the December 2019 Diocese of Columbus, Ohio list.

Current Status: Accused of sexual misconduct


John Aquinas Powers

Ordained: 1952
In 2019, the Diocese of Raleigh publicly named Father John Aquinas Powers with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. Church documents reveal that Dominican Reverend Powers belong to the Province of Saint Martin de Porres at the time of its formation in 1979. In 2009, he faced allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct. His obituary claims that during his career, he served as a chaplain in the Marines between 1955 and 1959 in the Pacific Islands, Japan, and China. Between 1960 and 1996, Church officials also assigned Father Powers to special assignments and numerous parishes in New Orleans, South Carolina North Carolina, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, and Ohio. His name appears on the October 2018 Diocese of Raleigh list that revealed allegations of abuse that occurred in the Diocese in 1966. The Church became aware of these allegations in 2002. Reverend Powers’ name also appears on the July 2019 Providence Diocese list and the December 2019 Diocese of Columbus list.

Current Status: Died: 2010


John Richardson

Ordained: ?
In 2019, the Diocese of Raleigh publicly named Father John Richardson with credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving an innocent victim. Church documents dated 1988 reveal reports of abuse involving Reverend Richardson in 1967. Church officials removed Richardson from active ministry.

Current Status: Removed from active ministry


Raymond Francisco Schulte

Ordained: 1979
In September 2002, an alleged victim made a statement indicating that Father Raymond Francisco Schulte had sexually assaulted him in October 1988. In May 2010, the priest’s name appeared in a new civil lawsuit filed by two brothers claiming that Reverend Schulte sexually molested them between 1984 and 1986. In March 2011, the lawsuit was settled along with other claims against the priest and the Benedictine Abbey. In April 2011, a new civil lawsuit against Father Schulte was received in Puerto Rico. Even though the Church restricted Reverend Schulte’s lifestyle, he frequently traveled, including to Italy. Father Schulte’s name appears on the December 2013 Abbey list, the January 2014 St. Cloud List, and the October 2018 Diocese of Raleigh list. There are also Church documents dated 1992 of inappropriate sexual activity involving Father Schulte in the Diocese of Raleigh in 1985.

Current Status: Named in a civil lawsuit


Edgar Sepulveda

Ordained: 1989
In August 2009, Church officials on the Diocese of Raleigh removed Columbia-native Father Edgar Sepulveda after allegations arose of’s sexual misconduct. In May 2009, Reverend Sepulveda was accused of sexually molesting a sixteen-year-old male in Brunswick County. However, it was not until January 2010 that the incident became news after he was arrested and charged with two sex crimes against an underage child. Reverend Sepulveda denied the accusations. In September 2012, the prosecutors dropped the criminal charges. During Father Sepulveda’s career, he served at the Magnolia, Saint Clare Mission, Beulaville, NC Santa Teresa Mission, and Mount Olive, NC Maria Reina Parish as a pastor. His name appears on the October 2018 Diocese of Raleigh list. Church documents note that he was suspended, and the Vatican was in the process of conducting a trial. In February 2020, the Vatican laicized (defrocked – removed from the priesthood) Sepulveda.

Current Status: Faced criminal charges


Thomas F. Watkins

Ordained: 1963
In April 2002, Church officials from the Diocese of Raleigh placed Father Thomas F. Watkins on administrative leave after allegations arose that the Reverend proposed sex to an underage seminary student. The alleged incident involved an eighteen-year-old victim twenty-six years earlier. Father Watkins denied the accusation. In 1996, Reverend Watkins had become a priest for the Diocese after his ordination into the Marianist Order. Before 1991, he faced accusations of sexual misconduct. Church officials had ordered that the priest seek out psychological treatment before he arrived at the Diocese of Raleigh. In 1995, the Reverend faced a new accusation involving an adult. In June 2002, Church officials granted Father Thomas Watkins an indefinite medical leave of absence after he refused to go to counseling.

Current Status: Faced accusations of sexual misconduct

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