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Lawsuit against Catholic Diocese of Charlotte claims rampant sexual abuse of young boys was ignored

The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte is being sued by two men who claim that they were sexually abused as children by priests. The lawsuit claims the diocese knew or should have known were predators.

The lawsuits were filed by the two men without revealing their identities, and they had previously sued the diocese in 2011 and 2012. Unfortunately, their e cases were dismissed in 2014 after the diocese argued that too much time had elapsed since the alleged incidents. Most victims of child sexual abuse don’t come forward until much later in life, so it is very common that victims of childhood se abuse wait until adulthood to process what happened then come forward. 

However, thanks to the Child Victims Act, which allows child victims to seek prosecution against their abuser until the age of 55 in civil cases, the men were able to open the lawsuit. In North Carolina legislators opened a two-year window for civil actions over child sexual abuse to be filed regardless of time limitations. Other states have different windows and timeframes some are expiring even though courts are currently closed due to COVID-19 which is unfair for those victims who have not had a chance to file or may be sick with the Coronavirus. 

The Charlotte diocese released a list of priests and other clergy which consisted of at least 14 members, most dead or retired, who were “credibly accused” of child abuse while serving the diocese. The lawsuit claims in a statement that “The Diocese of Charlotte is aware of two lawsuits, pertaining to allegations that date back to the 1970s and 1980s, filed Monday by individuals whose claims against the diocese were previously dismissed by the North Carolina courts,”

“We disagree that the diocese is liable to the plaintiffs and will respond to the litigation in court at the appropriate time. The diocese takes allegations of child sexual abuse very seriously and remains committed to providing a safe environment for all people, especially the young and vulnerable.

The list of clergy members does not offer accountability to these men as the diocese is expected to deny negligence in court. One of the lawsuits, filed in North Carolina, claims that former priest Richard Farwell had sexually abused him as a minor for 3 years in the early 80’s. 

According to the lawsuit, the diocese later transferred Farwell to a church in Salisbury in order to conceal the abuse. Farwell then continued to molest the boy even after the boy was sent to live in an orphanage in the N.C. 

The plaintiff has tried to commit suicide at least seven times because of the abuse, the lawsuit says.

Farwell now lives in Florida, he had had pleaded no contest in 2004 to a misdemeanor charge in Rowan County of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, after the diocese reported the abuse.

The second plaintiff, named his abuser as Joseph Kelleher, claims the abuse took place in 1977 and 1978 when he was just 14 years old and Kelleher was serving at Our Lady of Annunciation in Albemarle. 

Kelleher, who is now dead, was removed from ministry following the allegations against him.

Herman Law empowers victims by giving them a voice, along with the tools and assistance they need for themselves and their families to make decisions on how to proceed. Families and victims are often overwhelmed in the wake of sexual abuse. Dealing with the immediate issues facing victims such as police involvement, state investigations, school meetings, phone calls from attorneys and investigators, media coverage, lawsuits, and the emotional devastation is often daunting, confusing, and stressful for victims and families. Herman Law lays out the step-by-step road map for victims to take control and get their life back on track.

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