Catholic Priest Charged with Sexually Abusing Minors in Charleston during 1980s
By Drew Tripp & Brian Troutman
ABC News 4
June 1, 2017
|Freddy Washington (Al Cannon Detention Center)|
A New York Catholic priest has been arrested and charged with sexually abusing two boys while he was serving as a volunteer in a Charleston church more than 30 years ago.
Freddy Washington, 53, was arrested by Charleston Police and booked into the Al Cannon Detention Center on Thursday. Washington is charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, and one count of committing lewd acts on a child under 14.
Affidavits from the Charleston Police Department show Washington is accused of sexually molesting two boys while he was a volunteer at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Charleston between 1982 and 1984.
Washington was not an ordained minister at the time, according both to police and a statement provided Thursday by the Diocese of Charleston.
A spokesperson for the Diocese said Thursday Washington is a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), and is currently serving as a priest at a parish in the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York.
A check of that diocese's website does not list Washington on its current priest roster.
According to the affidavits obtained Thursday, both victims who have accused Washington of molesting them were studying to be altar boys at Charleston's St. Patrick's Catholic Church at the time of the alleged incidents.
In the first incident, the victim tells police Washington got him alone on a flight of stairs inside the church in 1982, and told him it was a ritual for all potential altar boys to have outlines of their penises drawn on pieces of paper.
According to police affidavits, after the victim submitted to this request, Washington then began fondling the victim's scrotum. The boy was 10 years old at the time, according to police.
The second victim described a similar incident inside St. Patrick's between 1983 and 1984. The second victim was also studying to be an altar boy.
Police say the second victim claims Washington waited until they were alone on a flight of stairs, then told him it was customary for prospective altar boys to have their penises measured.
Police say once Washington had convinced the boy to do this, Washington grabbed the child’s penis, fondled it, and then performed oral sex on him. Police say the boy was between 11 and 14 years old at the time.
Washington would have been between 18 and 21 at the time of the alleged incidents, according to the affidavits.
The Diocese of Charleston says Washington was ordained as a priest Aug. 1, 1992.
"As soon as diocesan officials learned about the allegations, they conducted an investigation which led them to report the victims' claims to local police," Charleston Diocese spokesperson Maria Aselage said Thursday. "Additionally, they contacted Church officials in the Diocese of Rockville Centre."
Aselage said later Thursday that the diocese first learned about the allegations in February 2016. A police report obtained from Charleston PD Friday shows the incidents of alleged sexual abuse Washington is accused of were first reported seven months later in September 2016.
Aselage said the diocese was conducting its own internal investigation of the allegations during those seven months before reporting Washington to police.
"We had to track down various people who were either working or attending St. Patrick’s in the early 80’s so we could interview them," Aselage said in an email.
Aselage says the priest Washington volunteered for in the early 1980s had died by the time the alleged incidents were reported.
Washington remains in jail, and has already made his initial appearance in bond court, according to online jail records.
A judge did not set bond on the two criminal sexual conduct charges. Bond has been set at $100,000 on the lewd acts charge.