Suit Says Priest Molested Teens While in Boone

By Tim Funk
Charlotte Observer (North Carolina)
March 26, 1998

A Boone family has charged in a lawsuit that a Roman Catholic priest working for the Diocese of Charlotte repeatedly molested their teen-age sons from 1991 to 1995.

The Rev. Damion Lynch, who was assigned to St. Elizabeth Parish in Boone during those years, has not been charged with a crime. On Wednesday, Lynch's lawyer, Ed Fiorella of Charlotte, called the suit "groundless."

The suit, filed Feb. 27 in Watauga County Superior Court, asks that the defendants - Lynch, Charlotte Bishop William Curlin and the diocese - pay damages of $80,000.

The suit says Lynch became close to the family and the teen-agers - both former altar boys - during his time at the Boone church. Then, the suit alleges, Lynch molested them "on a repeated basis."

Curlin, who assigns priests to serve in parishes in the 46-county diocese, was out of the country Wednesday. An article in the March 13 edition of The Catholic News & Herald, published by the diocese, said Lynch reported "an indiscretion" to Curlin in 1995. By June 1996, the article said, Curlin thought he had "resolved the matter" with the family.

The article also said Lynch was reassigned to Charlotte's Our Lady of Consolation Parish in 1997, but asked Curlin in February to give him a leave from his ministry.

Lawyers for Lynch and for the family would not comment further.

Joann Keane, a spokeswoman for the diocese, released this statement:

"The diocese deeply regrets the sadness this story brings to the church and to all who faithfully serve in the priestly ministry. The diocese takes allegations of priestly misconduct seriously. When allegations are made, an immediate response is offered to the people involved."


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