Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Charlotte Catholic Diocese staffer arrested: Sex abuse victims respond

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home)

Let's hope that anyone who saw, suspected or suffered this music minister's crimes will find the courage and strength to come forward, get help, call police, protect others and start healing.

We are deeply grateful that at least one concerned adult was smart and caring enough to call police officials, not church officials. When any grown up has any doubt about adults interacting with kids, it's crucial that law enforcement be notified immediately.

And let's hope that the Charlotte diocesan public relations staffer is telling the truth, and that evidence doesn't surface later showing that church officials knew or should have known Berrell had sexual troubles. That happens a lot, even now, and it's terribly disturbing to Catholics and citizens alike.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around since 1988 and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747)

Church music minister charged with indecent liberties

Mark Barrett • May 19, 2009

ASHEVILLE – The music minister at North Asheville’s St. Eugene Catholic Church was arrested Monday on charges of taking or attempting to take indecent liberties with a minor April 21.

Asheville police charged Paul Lawrence Berrell, 29, with one felony count of indecent liberties with a student. The formal charge against Berrell is taking or attempting to take indecent liberties with a student “under the age of 16 years for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.”

An Asheville Police Department report says the incident occurred at Berrell’s North Ridge Drive home, just on the Woodfin side of the Woodfin-Asheville municipal line, but gives no details.

The report says a “parent called Asheville Police Department to report indecent liberties with a child.” Police spokeswoman Melissa Williams said the department would have no other comment because the incident involves a minor.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Charlotte, which St. Eugene is a part of, said Berrell no longer works for the church as of yesterday afternoon.

Spokesman David Hains said the church was unaware of any allegations against Berrell until police arrived at the church yesterday.

“We know pretty much what is in the police report. The police came and talked with Mr. Berrell. He left with them and then he was arrested,” Hains said.

Hains said he does not know whether the alleged incident occurred in connection with Berrell’s duties at St. Eugene’s, where he held the title of pastoral associate for music and liturgy.

Asheville Catholic School is a ministry of St. Eugene. Hains said there is “no indication to us at this point” that the incident occurred at the school or at any school function.

Biographical information on Berrell’s pages on social networking Internet sites Facebook and MySpace say he is “a published composer of intergenerational Catholic-Christian music” and that he released an album last year entitled “This Little Boy: A Christmas Collection.”

It says Berrell is originally from Atlanta, graduated from the University of Georgia, and arranges collegiate and semi-professional a capella music.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests