Notable Cases

Post and Courier
February 28, 2004

Some notable sex abuse cases involving the Catholic Diocese of Charleston:

Monsignor Frederick J. Hopwood taught at Bishop England High School in the 1950s, served as The Citadel's chaplain and worked his way up the church hierarchy to monsignor and rector of Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. In the early 1990s, the church removed Hopwood from his parish in Greenville after a man said he had been abused. At least nine other men contacted prosecutors with the same story; one pressed charges.

Hopwood pleaded guilty in 1994 to one count of a lewd act upon a minor and was given statewide immunity from further prosecution. During the plea hearing, Hopwood told the court, "I have a deep sense of sorrow for what I have done and an even deeper sense of hurt for what I have done has caused to others."

The Rev. Eugene Condon, another popular Charleston priest, pleaded guilty to four criminal abuse charges in 1998. During their investigation, authorities arrested Condon and found a trunk containing about 150 photographs of naked adolescent boys taken in the rectory of Stella Maris on Sullivan's Island, said Debbie Herring-Lash, an assistant solicitor who prosecuted the case. The photographs showed the boys from the shoulders down. Condon, like Hopwood, received a probationary sentence.

Chuck Sullivan, a former coach at Cardinal Newman High School in Forest Acres and St. Joseph's Catholic School in Columbia, pleaded guilty in 1998 to 32 charges involving at least 17 boys between the ages of 11 and 16. He received a 35-year sentence.

Eddie Fischer, a teacher at private and public Charleston schools for more than 40 years, began his career as a pedophile in the late 1950s at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where he molested at least two boys. He admitted to abusing at least 40 other students at area schools. He pleaded guilty to sexual abuse in 1998 and died two years ago in prison.

The Rev. Justin Goodwin received a probationary sentence in 1995 after being charged with molesting four children while serving at Blessed Sacrament on Savannah Highway in the late 1970s. He has died since.

The Rev. Juan Carlos Castano received a two-year prison sentence last year after pleading guilty to abusing a 5-year-old girl at her Rock Hill home in 2000.

Monsignor Thomas Austin Evatt, 52, of Anderson, was charged in 2002 with molesting a 9-year-old boy 25 years ago at a West Ashley church. Evatt died in July before his case could go to trial.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.