Bishop Peter Jugis Defends Priest’s Actions as “Boundary Violations” in Letter Explaining his Removal
In a move that seems to have been lifted directly from the “circle of secrecy” that was exposed in Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s 2018 grand jury investigation into clergy abuse, Charlotte Catholic Bishop Peter Jugis minimized and sanitized the allegations against a local priest in a letter explaining his removal to parishioners.
Allegations of child sexual abuse against Fr. Patrick Hoare were investigated by police in Abington Township, Pennsylvania. These trained law enforcement professionals determined that the allegations were credible but their hands were tied by the statute of limitations. Despite this finding by the police, Bishop Jugis goes to great length to minimize the reasons for Fr. Hoare’s removal. This careful use of sanitizing language is a key piece of the “playbook,” described in A.G. Shapiro’s report, used by Catholic officials for years to minimize cases of sexual abuse and keep the public from fully understanding its extent.
What Bishop Jugis calls “boundary violations” in his letter are clear cut examples of grooming. Especially concerning is the bishop’s attempt to soften the allegations by saying “no specific incident of sexual abuse was identified based on the evidence collected.” The simple fact is that members of Bishop Jugis’ team are likely not trained investigators, unlike the police in Pennsylvania who actually looked into these charges. We think that police and prosecutors are better at uncovering what happened than an untrained Lay Review Board in North Carolina.
We are disappointed but not surprised that Bishop Jugis chose to represent the allegations against Fr. Hoare in this way given that the Diocese of Charlotte continuously fails to live up to the USCCB promise to be “open and honest” in cases of clergy abuse. Charlotte’s woefully inadequate list of accused clergy is another example. We hope in the future that Catholic officials will choose not to minimize allegations of abuse and will instead accept the findings of law enforcement and the word of sexual abuse survivors.
(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)