Five priests with connections to Winston-Salem and Forsyth County were accused of child sexual abuse — and the accusations found credible — the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte said in a report released Monday.
According to the report, four of the five priests were alleged to have committed the sexual abuse elsewhere but had assignments that included serving as chaplains at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School and Catholic churches in the area. But one — Andre Anthony Corbin — was alleged to have sexually abused children while he served as chaplain at Bishop McGuinness, which was in Winston-Salem in the 1960s and 1970s.
The report was the result of the Charlotte diocese’s review of records to determine how many priests who served in Western North Carolina before and after the diocese was established in 1972 had been credibly accused of child sexual abuse.
The five priests with connections to Winston-Salem and Forsyth County are Louis A. Bonacci, Harold V. McGovern, William G. Ward, Joseph Kelleher and Corbin. All of them have been removed from ministry or have died.
The Charlotte diocese spent a year reviewing 1,600 files going back 50 years to provide a list of priests who were credibly accused. The diocese’s report provides three separate lists of priests — those who were credibly accused of sexual abuse since 1972, when the Charlotte diocese was established; those who served before 1972 and those who served in the Charlotte diocese but were accused of sexual abuse elsewhere.
The report comes amid Catholic churches around the country releasing the names of priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse after pressure from victims. But critics also say that such lists continue to be incomplete. A recent Associated Press analysis found that more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse were not included in lists released by dioceses and religious orders where they served. The AP also found almost 400 priests and clergy members who were accused of abuse. The dioceses where they served have not yet released any names.
Bonacci was ordained in 1973 and had assignments that included Wake Forest University campus ministry and at St. Benedict the Moor church in Winston-Salem. No abuse allegations have been documented from these locations, but his religious order, the Jesuits, said in 2018 that he was credibly accused of abuse in the 1970s and early 1980s in Maryland. He was removed from the ministry in 2011 and left his religious order in 2014.
McGovern had assignments that included serving as chaplain at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School, when it was in Winston-Salem, Holy Cross in Kernersville and Immaculate Heart of Mary in High Point in the 1980s. In 2008, his religious order, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, removed McGovern from ministry after a claim of sexual abuse in Delaware from the 1980s.
Ward, ordained in 1950, served at St. Leo the Great in Winston-Salem. There were no documented incidents of abuse in Winston-Salem, but he was named in 2018 on a list of deceased priests with more than one abuse allegation in New York parishes in 1955-56 and 1966-71. He died in 2008.
Kelleher served at Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Lexington in the 1990s and was a chaplain at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in Kernersville. In 2010, he was arrested after a man claimed Kelleher sexually abused him in 1977, when the man was 14 and Kelleher was pastor of Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic Church in Albermarle. According to the report, Kelleher admitted the abuse in a police interview. A Superior Court judge in Stanly County dismissed a charge of indecent liberties after determining that Kelleher lacked the mental capacity to stand trial. He died in 2014 at the age of 86.
Corbin served as chaplain at Bishop McGuinness, when it was in Winston-Salem and served at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Winston-Salem. In 1983, the Charlotte Diocese received an allegation about Corbin dating back to 1966, when Corbin served at the Gibbons Hall for Boys in Asheville. In 1970, the Raleigh diocese deemed Corbin unfit for ministry after he was accused of abuse at Bishop McGuinness.
In 1988, Asheville police charged Corbin in connection with the alleged abuse at the Gibbons Hall for Boys. He pleaded guilty in 1989 to one count of indecent liberties with a child. Monday’s report said there were additional allegations of sexual abuse coming out of Brevard and Winston-Salem in the 1960s but offers no further details about the allegations. Corbin died in 2008.
“It is painful to even try to comprehend such gravely immoral behavior,” Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis wrote in a letter Monday. “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.”
Winston-Salem City Council members may be looking at an increase in fines for illegal parking on city sidewalks, as the city looks also at parking problems in general.
The City Council’s public safety committee talked about parking problems recently, and received a report showing that parking fines tend to be lower here than elsewhere in the state.
The penalty for parking on a city sidewalk is only $15, although that can rise to $30 if there’s a sign present prohibiting parking in general in the area.
“It might be prudent to see how significant a problem it is, but I do agree that $15 is no big deal,” said East Ward Council Member Annette Scippio. “That is a very low number for an obstruction of where people are walking.”
South Ward Council Member John Larson said he got the ball rolling on the issue and was surprised to find city fines so low.
“This evolved out of the discussion over the electric scooters and what is allowed on sidewalks and what is not,” Larson said.
The city’s fine for exceeding the time allowed on the parking meter is lower than in many places as well, city officials said.
The city’s fine for that violation is $15, but Charlotte fines motorists $25 and High Point charges $50. Raleigh has a $20 fine, and Asheville does as well. On the other hand, Greensboro and Chapel Hill have a $15 fine for violating the time limit, the same as in Winston-Salem.
High Point and Chapel Hill charge a $50 fine for parking on a sidewalk, while Raleigh has a $30 fine and Greensboro’s is $35. Charlotte imposes a $25 fine, but Durham, at $20, was the only city surveyed to approach the Winston-Salem fine.
Assistant City Attorney Lori Sykes, who researched the fines for the city, said that from Jan. 1 to Nov. 20, Winston-Salem had issued 43 tickets for parking on the sidewalks.
The city can fine a driver $15 for parking too far from the curb, parking at the wrong angle or parking outside the designated lines on the pavement.
Prohibited parking spaces, in addition to sidewalks, include parking in an intersection, alleyway, within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or within 25 feet of intersection curb lines. Parking drivers have to stay 25 feet away from a flashing beacon, 50 feet from a railroad crossing, 15 feet away from a fire station entrance and 75 feet away from such an entrance on the opposite side of the street from the entrance (to give big trucks room to maneuver).
Most of those violations are $15 fines, but obstructing a fire hydrant or fire or garbage vehicle can cost you $50. A $250 fine can come your way if you park in a handicapped space.
Rodd Ring, transportation operations manager, said enforcement of parking regulations is divided between two city entities.
Downtown, city transportation employees patrol the central downtown business district and ticket violators. Away from downtown, police handle parking complaints on a complaint-driven basis.
Council members said it’s not just parking on the sidewalk that is causing a problem. With cars parking or driving in bike lanes and people running for exercise on the roads, Northeast Ward Council Member Vivian Burke said, “someone is going to be hurt if we don’t get on that real seriously.”
“You need to make a few of them an example and maybe the other ones will stop,” Burke said.
Southwest Ward Council Member Dan Besse said Hawthorne Road is the source of most sidewalk-parking complaints that he hears.
“The other is in front of Wake Forest Baptist in the area designated no parking,” Besse said. “It is used on a routine basis by people picking up hospital employees. They will park and put their flashers on.”
Police also often have more important things to do, Besse added. It may take longer than someone thinks it should for an officer to show up, he said. At the same time, people told to call police if they have a complaint often say they don’t have time to make the call.
Council members are saying a fine increase shouldn’t be put in suddenly.
“If we are going to make changes, we need to look hard and get a lot of citizen involvement,” Northwest Ward Council Member Jeff MacIntosh said.
A Hanesbrands Inc. official has suggested that the corporation’s “ability to remain U.S.-headquartered” — and other companies’ abilities as well — may depend on getting clarity and potential relief from the U.S. Treasury on a federal corporate-tax program.
The program primarily affects U.S. companies with significant international operations, particularly as the tax relates to intellectual property.
The company has about 2,300 employees in Forsyth County, representing 28.8% of its 8,000 domestic workforce and 3.4% of its global workforce of 68,000, both as of Dec. 31, 2018.
Hanesbrands’ concern was expressed in a letter submitted Sept. 3 by Bryant Purvis, its vice president of global tax, to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Hanesbrands could not be reached for immediate comment on the letter.
Although the Hanesbrands request was made nearly four months ago, it surfaced publicly in a lengthy New York Times article posted Monday.
The article discusses how hundreds of corporations continue to lobby the Trump administration for additional tax cuts on top of those they received in the controversial December 2017 legislation that dropped the tax rate for most companies from 35% to 21%.
Congress approved new taxes, such as the one cited by Hanesbrands, that are designed to help offset the revenue loss. The Times reported that corporations began lobbying Treasury for “high-tax” exemptions shortly after that law went into effect.
Although the Trump administration, particularly Mnuchin, has touted the corporate tax-rate cut as “jet fuel for the U.S. economy,” some economists have said the cuts and exemptions to tax increases are leading to the Internal Revenue Service collecting hundreds of billions of dollars less than previously projected through 2028.
For example, The Washington Post reported Dec. 16 that 91 corporations in the Fortune 500, many worth billions of dollars, paid no federal taxes in 2018. The Post also reported that about 400 of America’s largest corporations paid an average federal tax rate of 11.3% on their profits.
“The budget deficit has jumped more than 50% since Mr. Trump took office and is expected to top $1 trillion in 2020, partly as a result of the tax law,” the Times reported.
The Times article ends with the Hanesbrands anecdote focused on a tax program known by the acronym GILTI, or global intangible low-taxed income.
According to the article, congressional Republicans said GILTI was meant to prevent companies from avoiding American taxes by moving their intellectual property overseas.
Hanesbrands has expanded aggressively internationally since its September 2006 spin-off from Sara Lee Corp., spending $3.09 billion on 11 purchases.
Those deals include foreign companies and affiliates Bras N Things, Maidenform, Pacific Brands Ltd., DBApparel, Champion Europe, Champion Japan and TNF Apparel. Those acquisitions include the intellectual properties of those companies.
Purvis warned that the “GILTI (tax) regime will become an impediment to U.S. companies and their ability to not only compete globally as a general manner, but also their ability to remain U.S.-headquartered if they are to maintain the overall fiscal health of their business, as this advice is already being given to U.S. companies.”
VF Corp., the apparel marketer formerly of Greensboro and now based in Denver, has cited the GILTI tax’s impact on its overall finances.
Mark Mazur, a tax analyst with The Urban Institute, said Monday that Hanesbrands is among dozens of corporations, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that sent similar letters to Treasury about GILTI.
The Times said that list includes Credit Suisse, United Technologies Corp. (which has 1,500 employees in Winston-Salem with its Collins Aerospace division), News Corp., Liberty Mutual, Anheuser-Busch, Comcast and Proctor & Gamble.
The Times reported some corporations “had sold the rights to their patents to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. The companies then imposed steep licensing fees on their American units.”
“The sleight-of-hand transactions reduced profits in the United States and left them in places like Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands.”
To reduce the benefit companies reaped by claiming their profits were earned in tax havens, the law imposed an additional tax of up to 10.5% on some offshore earnings, The Times reported.
“In the pharmaceutical and tech industries in particular, profits are often tied to patents,” the newspaper reported.
“But after the law was enacted, large multinationals in industries, like consumer products, discovered that the GILTI tax applied to them, too. That threatened to cut into their windfalls from the corporate tax rate.”
Purvis wrote to Mnuchin that “the United States is the only nation that has enacted a GILTI-type (tax) regime, and it is critical that it be used to level the playing field globally, which has been a point at issue hindering U.S-based business relative to their foreign counterparts.”
The planned GILTI rate was 13.125%, but Purvis said it could rise as high as 18.9%.
“In that same vein, we strongly urge caution that this regime not be allowed to create a system in which American companies are faced with even higher rates of taxation on their foreign profits (in many cases higher than the foreign tax rates to which they are subject) than their foreign competitors.”
Purvis said the current high-tax exception “fails to take into account the very real and common scenarios where corporate taxpayers experience these dramatic fluctuations in foreign income from year to year.”
As such, Purvis said Hanesbrands wants Treasury to expand what is eligible for a high-tax exemption so to be more favorable to the company.
Purvis said Hanesbrands “stands ready to support Treasury in this regulatory process in any way that may prove constructive to producing final regulations in this space that both reflect the stated legislative intent, as well as offer protections to U.S.-based businesses operating in the global marketplace.”
Mazur, a Treasury official in the Obama administration, said he fielded similar corporate letters on tax issues.
He said most were viewed as lobbying efforts, and those with Hanesbrands’ type of warning as an example of bluster to be skeptical of.
“When corporations submit these types of letters concerning tax policy, they tend to make their situation appear dire,” Mazur said.
The Times cited as another example that Chris Trunck, vice president for tax at Owens Corning, asked Treasury “to tinker with the GILTI rules in a way that would preserve hundreds of millions of dollars of tax benefits that Owens Corning had accumulated from settling claims that it poisoned employees and others with asbestos.”
However, Mazur said the Trump administration’s Treasury has leaned more on the side of the taxpayer when considering exemptions to tax law.
“You could look at the Hanesbrands letter as ‘interpret our request in our favor, or we’ll leave,’ “ Mazur said. “It is true that some U.S. companies will move their headquarters offshore, so you have to put some weight on their message.”
Mazur said part of the issue is that the new tax laws “were put together somewhat hastily and were not well drafted.”
“My thought is that Hanesbrands is seeking clarity on the tax law, that the issue can be resolved in the regulatory process, and that the resolution benefits it.”
Bowman Gray IV, an independent local stockbroker, said the Hanesbrands warning “is a legitimate threat, though not immediate, if the tax law is not at the very least clarified.”
Gray said the concern expressed by Hanesbrands and other corporations “serves to point out how poorly (the tax) was constructed in the first place.”
“While the argument regarding the overall tax rate will always be a tug of war, as long as companies can know with some certainty what the rules are, then they can figure out how to work within those rules.
“However, when there is the potential for an unquantifiable tax liability, as there is with the GILTI, that causes concern and, in this case, contingency planning that may involve relocation.”
Gray said he expects Treasury to “tighten up” the language in the law to address this issue, “mitigating any significant moves by companies like Hanesbrands.”
“One caveat is that I would not place it outside the realm of possibility that if the same people who wrote the tax reform bill initially are allowed to rewrite it, they could muddy the waters even more.”