Greenville Catholic priest placed on administrative leave amid allegations of using his position to have sex with a parishioner; SNAP supports the victim
Fr. Wilbroad Mwape, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua in West Greenville and formerly of Holy Trinity in Orangeburg, has been accused of sexually abusing an adult parishioner in a lawsuit filed this week. The Catholic priest was placed on administrative leave by the Diocese of Charleston in the wake of the allegations. The complaint accused Fr. Mwape of grooming an adult female parishioner at Holy Trinity and continuing his pursuit when he assumed his duties at St. Anthony of Padua.
Our hearts go out to the survivor who has bravely come forward in this case. She sought counsel and wished to enrich her faith through Fr. Mwape and instead fell prey to the solicitation of sex by a trusted faith leader. We are concerned that there may be other victims and encourage them to report to law enforcement.
“We believe and stand with the survivor in this case. We don't know what lengths this accused perpetrator would go to, and whether or not he might also groom and victimize children in the parishes where he worked,” said South Carolina SNAP Leader MJ Briggs-Austin.
Fr. Mwape came to the U.S. in 2000 for graduate studies in Washington state and then relocated to South Carolina to complete a course as a board-certified chaplain before returning to his native home of Zambia. The cleric returned to the states and was new to the Diocese of Charleston in 2014. He was assigned to Gregory the Great Church in Bluffton in January of that year.
It is troubling to us that Fr. Mwape has had 3 different assignments in his 7 years in the Diocese. Frequent transfers can be a red flag. We call on Bishop Robert Guglielmone to fully and publicly disclose what steps he took in vetting the cleric prior to assigning him to a parish in his Diocese.
The Bishop should also go to all 3 churches where Fr. Mwape worked and urge anyone who experienced, witnessed or suspected Fr. Mwape of abuse to report to law enforcement. We believe taking this action will bolster Catholics’ confidence in their Church and will also be a sign that the Bishop takes the outcries of victims seriously.
CONTACT:Mike McDonnell, Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) MJ Briggs-Austin, South Carolina SNAP Leader ([email protected], 803-537-1264)