Monsignor Confesses, Police Say

By Greg Rickabaugh
Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)
May 30, 2002

Confronted by allegations that he sexually assaulted a boy 25 years ago in a Catholic church, Aiken Monsignor Thomas Evatt this month confessed to a "singular horrible event," according to a police report released Wednesday.

"The circumstances were unusual. That's why it happened," Monsignor Evatt reportedly told an investigator for the Diocese of Charleston in South Carolina. "What I did was a singular horrible event. It never happened again."

In a police report released Wednesday by the Charleston County Sheriff's Office, Detective Billy Crews stated that he spoke with Paul Buceti, an investigator for the diocese. Investigator Buceti told police about the monsignor's response after he had interviewed him about the allegations.

Contacted by police, attorney Andy Savage said the priest would surrender once a warrant was obtained, the report states.

Charleston police said a warrant charging the monsignor with a lewd act on a minor could be issued as early as this week. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

The alleged victim stepped forward this month with the accusations. The man, who is not being identified, said he was 9 when he was an overnight guest of Monsignor Evatt at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Charleston. He said he was assaulted in the church rectory in 1977.

The man first made the allegations to the Charleston Diocese on May 15, and the diocese forwarded them to police May 24, said Debbie Herring-Lash, of the solicitor's office in Charleston.

After speaking to Bishop Robert J. Baker about the allegations, Monsignor Evatt announced his retirement from St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church in Aiken, where he has served since 1994. The 52-year-old monsignor had served at eight other churches between 1977 and 1994.

The bishop announced a suspension Tuesday. The suspension prohibits the monsignor from wearing priestly garb, publicly celebrating Mass or functioning otherwise as a priest. He also cannot have unsupervised contact with minors or counsel minors.

Monsignor Evatt is living with a friend, diocesan officials said. A police report lists an address for him in Anderson, S.C.


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