The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte today published a list of 14 clergy who have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse in western North Carolina since the diocese was established in 1972.
The list is the result of a year-long process that included a comprehensive, independent review of more than 1,600 files dating back almost 50 years to ensure a full accounting of credibly accused clergy in the diocese’s history.
The file review confirmed that no clergy member serving in the Charlotte diocese today has a credible allegation of sexual abuse against him. Records also show that all 14 clergy named on the list were long ago removed from ministry or died before allegations arose. Most of their names also were made known publicly years ago by the diocese and others.
Reflecting national trends, the review found that instances of alleged abuse in the Charlotte diocese peaked in the 1970s and dropped sharply in the 2000s as new protections were put in place by the Church. In the last 20 years, one credible case of abuse is alleged to have occurred in the diocese.
“It is painful to even try to comprehend such gravely immoral behavior,” Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis wrote in a letter published Monday along with the list and other abuse information. “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 them and their families.”
“This list is the culmination of a process begun more than a year ago in our belief that a full accounting of credibly accused clergy would provide validation for victims and demonstrate our commitment to transparency and accountability,” wrote Jugis. On Sunday, the bishop offered prayers for abuse survivors and told parishioners about conclusions of the diocese’s file review during Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte.
In addition to its list, the Charlotte diocese published information about credibly accused clergy who served in western North Carolina before the Charlotte diocese was established in 1972, when the Diocese of Raleigh oversaw the Catholic Church across the state. Also identified were clergy who served without documented incident in the Charlotte diocese but were accused of abuse or misconduct elsewhere on lists published by other dioceses and religious orders.
The diocese compiled the information on a new webpage, www.accountability.charlottediocese.org, which also features resources including a new hotline for reporting sexual abuse operated independently by Red Flag Reporting. The hotline allows people to speak up, anonymously or not, when suspected sexual abuse or other unethical activity is noted.
Damion Jacques Lynch
In the mid-1990s, parents of a 14-year-old boy alleged that Lynch molested him from 1991 to 1995, when Lynch served at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Boone. Lynch admitted the abuse and was sent for psychiatric treatment. In 1997, after a counselor cleared Lynch for return to ministry, then-Charlotte Bishop William Curlin appointed Lynch to Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church in Charlotte. About that same time, the brother of the initial victim also accused Lynch of abusing him during his time in Boone. Lynch was removed from ministry in January of 1998 and the Diocese of Charlotte settled two lawsuits with the family in Watauga County Superior Court. Lynch was released from the clerical state in 2009.
- Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church (Charlotte, N.C.)
- St. Elizabeth Catholic Church (Boone, N.C.)
- Appalachian State University, Campus Minister (Boone, N.C.)