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 as Catholic churches around the country release 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 from 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."
Abuse allegations arising from the Triad or Northwest North Carolina
In addition to the five priests with Winston-Salem and Forsyth County ties, the following priests were listed as having credible allegations of abuse arising elsewhere in the Triad or the counties of Northwest North Carolina:
Hugh J. Dolan
Hugh J. Dolan, ordained in 1934, had assignments that included St. Benedict and St. Pius X in Greensboro. In 2004 the Raleigh diocese received a single allegation of Dolan abusing a minor at St. Pius X in 1964. Dolan had retired in 1979 and died in 1981.
John Joseph Hyland
John Joseph Hyland, ordained in 1942, was reported in May 2002 as sexually abusing a woman from 1964 to 1966, when she was a minor, at St. Pius X Catholic School in Greensboro. Hyland died in 1975. He had also served at St. Benedict in Greensboro.
P. Patrick Gavigan
P. Patrick Gavigan, ordained in 1953, was a member of the Trappist Fathers religious order whose service in area churches included assignments at Immaculate Heart of Mary in High Point, Our Lady of Grace in Greensboro and St. Benedict in Greensboro. In April of 2002, the diocese received an allegation from a woman alleging abuse by Gavigan in 1973 at Our Lady of Grace when the woman was a minor. After the allegation was received, Gavigan denied the allegation.
The diocese lay review board reviewed the allegation and recommended that Gavigan, then living in a nursing home, be restricted from ministry to minors. Gavigan died in 2007.
Damion Jacques Lynch
Damion Jacques Lynch, ordained in 1991, was accused by the parents of a 14-year-old boy in the mid-1990s of molestation from 1991 to 1995 while Lynch served at St. Elizabeth in Boone.
Lynch admitted the abuse and was sent for psychiatric treatment. In 1997 a counselor cleared him for ministry and then-Bishop William Curlin appointed him to a church in Charlotte.
About that time, the brother of the first victim also accused Lynch of abuse during the pastor’s time in Boone. Lynch was removed from ministry in 1998, and the diocese settled two lawsuits with the family in Watauga County Superior Court. Lynch was released from the clerical state in 2009. His assignments had included campus ministry at Appalachian State University in Boone.
Edward William Smith
Edward William Smith, ordained in 1943, died in 1975. His religious order, Glenmary Home Missioners, told the Charlotte diocese in 2019 that it had received two credible allegations of abuse many years after his death.
One was alleged to have occurred in the 1960s at Buck Creek, a short-lived training facility and youth camp run by Glenmary.
The other was alleged to have occurred in 1963 in Boone, when Smith was pastor of St. Elizabeth Church. In 2014, the Charlotte diocese received a separate allegation against Smith relating to sexual abuse alleged to have occurred on a 1960s Boy Scout camping trip in the Boone area.
Abuse allegations against priests who served in the Triad or Northwest North Carolina
The following priests were listed as having served elsewhere in the Triad or Northwest North Carolina, although allegations of abuse did not arise in the region:
Donald Phillip Baker
Donald Phillip Baker, ordained in 1980, was alleged by a man in 2017 of having abused him in his Lenoir parish from 1986 to 1989 when the man reporting the abuse was a teenager.
Caldwell County social services was informed and Lenoir police investigated, but no charges were filed. Baker had left the ministry in 1994. In 2019 the Charlotte diocese’s lay review board found the 2017 allegation credible. Baker remains permanently out of ministry.
He formerly served at Holy Infant in Reidsville and at Our Lady of Grace in Greensboro.
Francis C. Bourbon
Francis C. Bourbon, ordained in 1957, had assignments that included Immaculate Heart of Mary in High Point in the 1980s.
His religious order, the Jesuits, said in 2018 that he was credibly accused of abuse around 1985 in Buckingham, Va. Bourbon died in 2007.
H. Cornell Bradley
H. Cornell Bradley, ordained in 1969, had assignments including Church of the Epiphany Catholic Mission in Blowing Rock and St. Elizabeth in Boone.
In 2018, his religious order, the Jesuits, said he had credible allegations of abuse from the late 1960s to the early 1980s in Maryland and Washington. He was removed from ministry in 2006 and left his order in 2007.
Anthony Thomas Jablonowski
Anthony Thomas Jablonowski, ordained in 1970, held assignments at St. Francis of Assisi in Jefferson and at St. Francis of Rome Catholic Mission in Sparta in the 1970s.
In 2004, he pleaded no contest to a charge of abusing a 17-year-old boy in a Wyoming parish in the 1980s. He served time in prison and was dismissed from the clerical state in 2006.
William J. Kuder
William J. Kuder, ordained in 1933, had assignments that included St. Benedict in Greensboro and St. Joseph of the Hills in Eden (formerly Leaksville) before his death in 1960.
In 1995, the Charlotte diocese notified parishioners of St. Joan of Arc church in west Asheville that it had received allegations against Kuder of abuse of minor boys dating from the 1950s at that church.
James W. O’Neill
James W. O’Neill, ordained in 1967, was removed from his assignment at St. Paul the Apostle church in Greensboro in 2002 after the Delaware attorney general received an allegation that he had abused a minor in Delaware from 1976 to 1985.
In 2019, he was living in a supervised facility owned by his religious order in Maryland.
Kenneth R. Parker
Kenneth R. Parker, ordained in 1965, served in the 1960s at Our Lady of Grace in Greensboro, St. Francis of Rome Catholic Mission in Sparta and St. John Baptist de la Salle in North Wilkesboro.
He retired in 1993.
In 2010 he was removed from ministry after allegations of abuse in the early 1980s in Newton Grove.
Justin Paul Pechulis
Justin Paul Pechulis, ordained in 1958, had assignments that included St. Francis of Rome Catholic Mission in Sparta and St. John Baptist de la Salle in North Wilkesboro.
In 2008, a civil lawsuit was filed against the Charlotte diocese and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia by a man alleging he was sexually assaulted at St. Lawrence church (now basilica) in Asheville in 1976 or 1977 when the accuser was 15 or 16 years old and Pechulis was pastor.
Pechulis had died in 1983. The allegation was found credible in 2008 and the lawsuit was dismissed in 2010.
John D. Rutledge
John D. Rutledge, ordained in 1951, served at St. Mary church (formerly Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal church) in Greensboro in the early 1970s.
He died in 1998.
In 2018, the Archdiocese of Mobile, Ala., named him on its list of credibly accused clergy for an allegation of abuse in Alabama in 1968.