Pastor Removed from Church, School Following Abuse Allegation
By Wendy Victora
NWF Daily News
September 2, 2013
|Pastor Michael Cherup has been removed from his duties pending an allegation of abuse in 1993.|
Parishioners at St. Mary’s Catholic Church were told over the weekend that their pastor had been removed from his duties, following an allegation of sexual abuse dating back 20 years.
The Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee was notified July 19 that Monsignor Michael Cherup was being accused of sexual abuse in August 1993 by an individual who was 15 at the time.
“Following an internal investigation, the allegation was determined to be credible,” the diocese said in a statement that was shared with parishioners and parents of students who attend St. Mary Catholic School.
Cherup, who taught at the school, was removed Aug. 29 and may not “publicly celebrate the sacraments or function as a priest, pending the final outcome of the investigation,” the release said.
Read the statement. >>
That was the same day the diocese contacted the state attorney’s office to notify them.
“An allegation of sexual misconduct that did not involve sexual battery was presented to our office Thursday,” state attorney Bill Eddins said Monday. “The allegations involved conduct that occurred outside the state of Florida.
“Based on the nature of the allegations, the statute of limitations has probably run out,” he added.
Eddins described the misconduct as being lewd and lascivious in nature, like “groping.”
The diocese said in its statement that it encouraged the victim to contact the appropriate law enforcement agency, as well as the Florida Department of Children and Families Abuse Hotline. Eddins said the victim has not contacted his office.
“If he contacts our office, we will gather the information involving the matter,” he said. “Unless we’re contacted by the victim, there’s no further action for us to take at this time.”
Cherup was assigned to Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pensacola in Aug. 1993, according to a diocesan spokeswoman. She said all churches where Cherup has served received the same statement over the weekend.
St. Mary Catholic School parents were asked to share information with their children.
A support team will be at the school Tuesday to help any student with questions or concerns.
Eddins said anyone with additional information, allegations or concerns should contact his office.
Assignment Editor Wendy Victora can be reached at 850-315-4478 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @WendyVnwfdn.