Priest Pleads No Contest to Incident from '80s
Farwell Given Probation in Case Involving Former Altar Boy's Accusation

By Ken Garfield
Charlotte Observer (North Carolina)
November 4, 2004

A priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte pleaded no contest Tuesday to contributing to the delinquency of a minor - a misdemeanor stemming from an incident in Salisbury about 20 years ago.

Richard Farwell, 56, was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation. He was ordered to undergo psychiatric counseling and complete 100 hours of community service after agreeing to the plea in Rowan County Superior Court. He also must not be alone with anyone under age 18.

Farwell had been charged with two felony counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, stemming from incidents that allegedly occurred at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Salisbury in the mid-1980s. One charge was dismissed and the other reduced to a misdemeanor.

Under such a plea, the punishment is accepted without admission of wrongdoing. Farwell's lawyer, David Bingham of Salisbury, said his client lives in Florida. Allegations first arose in 1999.

In court, Farwell said the charges were false. His accuser, a 33-year-old former altar boy, told the court that before this, he had looked up to Farwell "as a man of God."

Diocese spokesman David Hains said Farwell was on administrative leave with his faculties removed while the case was in court. That means he can't present himself as a priest or celebrate Mass publicly.

Now, a diocese review board will conduct its own investigation and make a confidential recommendation to Bishop Peter Jugis on Farwell's status.

Hains said that because it's a personnel matter, he couldn't say whether Farwell is being financially supported by the diocese.


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