Abuse Claims Against Diocesan Chancellor and Vicar General in Charlotte Found “Credible,” SNAP Calls for AG Investigation
The Diocese of Charlotte has found more claims of sexual misconduct by the diocese’s former vicar general and chancellor, one of the men in charge of investigating reports of abuse, “credible.” Now Catholic officials in Charlotte must pull out the stops in order to discover if other abusers were protected by this man, and the North Carolina attorney general should launch an investigation into this situation.
Now that multiple allegations of inappropriate touching and kissing by Fr. Mauricio West have been found to be “credible,” Bishop Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte has an obligation to do much more. Prior to stepping down in March, Fr. West was the second most powerful official in the diocese, and as Vicar General and Chancellor he had significant influence over reports and investigations of sexual abuse. Since it now appears that he was compromised, it may be that those accused in Charlotte were given a pass, and that abuse reports were swept under the rug. The losers in that case are the wounded victims who made reports in good faith, and members of the public who are in danger whenever an abuser is allowed to stay hidden.
Charlotte is one of the few dioceses in the United States that has yet to publish a list of accused priests, deacons, brothers, nuns, and other church staff. Officials there have resisted informing the public about abusers. Perhaps the fact that such a high-ranking member of the diocese was himself accused helps to explain why. The continued secrecy and delay makes us fear that survivors are still being ignored, that abusers may be warned in advance of a list publication, allowing those who might be on it to move out of the reach of law enforcement, and even that evidence might be slated for destruction.
We believe it is past time for Attorney General Josh Stein of North Carolina to step in and use the powers of his office, including search warrants, subpoenas and grand jury investigations, to perform a detailed, trustworthy audit. Such a secular investigation is the only way to get a full and accurate picture of the abuse problem in the Diocese of Charlotte.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)