Former Charlotte Priest Named in Letter Alleging Cover-up of Abuse by Archbishop Mccarrick
Catholic News Herald
August 28, 2018
The Diocese of Charlotte has found itself connected to the growing scandal surrounding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. The diocese was mentioned in a former Vatican ambassador’s letter claiming Pope Francis and other Church officials ignored sexual abuse allegations against the retired prelate.
Greg Littleton, a priest who was removed from ministry in the Charlotte diocese in 2004, was named in the Aug. 25 letter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who served as apostolic nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016.
Archbishop Vigano accused Church officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to act on knowledge of Archbishop McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct and abuse. He cited Littleton as one of the first to try to bring to light evidence of Archbishop McCarrick’s “grave misdeeds,” in 2006.
Archbishop McCarrick resigned July 28 from the College of Cardinals and was ordered by the pope to maintain “a life of prayer and penance” until a Church trial examines allegations that he sexually abused minors. McCarrick, who retired from active ministry in 2006, has said he is innocent.
Littleton, who lives as a private citizen in North Carolina, did not respond Aug. 27 to requests for comment on the allegations against Archbishop McCarrick.
Littleton’s story has been detailed in blogs that identify him by name and news reports where he is referred to as an unnamed priest. It began in 1987 when Archbishop McCarrick, then head of the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., allegedly abused an unnamed Metuchen seminarian while in New York City.
In 1994, Littleton wrote an account of abuse at the hands of Archbishop McCarrick and claimed that it led to his inappropriate touching of two boys.
In 1997, Littleton came to the Charlotte diocese from the Diocese of Metuchen, where he had received treatment for his 1994 admission and was regarded as a priest in good standing.
Returning priests to ministry after psychological treatment was the practice at the time, diocesan spokesman David Hains said.
Littleton served at St. John the Baptist Church in Tryon and later at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Charlotte.
In the fall of 2002, then Bishop Paul Bootkoski of Metuchen ordered a review of priest personnel files as part of a national investigation of sexual abuse of children in the Church. As a result of the review, in October 2002 the Metuchen diocese sent portions of Littleton’s psychological assessment to the prosecutor’s office in Middlesex County, N.J.
At that time, the Charlotte diocese was made aware information was sent to the prosecutor, but Littleton’s status as a priest in good standing was not changed because no other information about his fitness for ministry was supplied to the diocese.
Unlike the diocese’s current “zero tolerance” policy, the policy in 2002 said the bishop needed a specific allegation in order to take action against a priest — something the diocese did not have in connection with Littleton, Hains told the Catholic News Herald in 2004.
“Today, an investigation would warrant the priest’s removal from active ministry,” he noted in the Feb. 27, 2004, edition, as called for in the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
In mid-February 2004, Bishop Bootkoski relayed new information regarding Littleton to Bishop Peter Jugis, who had only months before been installed as the fourth bishop of Charlotte.
Bishop Bootkoski said he was including Littleton among Diocese of Metuchen clergy counted in the John Jay study – a nationwide review of abusive clergy by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, under the mandate of the Charter, to investigate the scope of the sexual abuse of minors by priests from 1950 to 2002.
Littleton’s name was on a list of priests of the Metuchen diocese who had been investigated for sexually abusing minors in the 1990s.
After reviewing the new documents sent from New Jersey, Bishop Jugis removed Littleton from ministry as pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Church that same month.
For the approximately seven years Littleton served in the Charlotte diocese, no complaints were filed against him.
The Middlesex County prosecutor later declined to press charges in the matter.
Archbishop Vigano’s letter came on the heels of a New York Times report regarding two seminarians who said they had been abused by Archbishop McCarrick and received financial settlements in the mid-2000s.
The Archdiocese of Newark, where Archbishop McCarrick served from 1986 to early 2001, contributed to an $80,000 settlement payment to Robert Ciolek, who was ordained a priest after the abuse began, but eventually left the priesthood to marry.
The Metuchen diocese made a separate $100,000 settlement in 2007 with an unnamed priest who said he had been abused by Archbishop McCarrick and others.
This priest had submitted one of the earliest written complaints about Archbishop McCarrick, according to the New York Times.
In his letter Archbishop Vigano names this former priest as Littleton.
He said Littleton “recounted his tragic story of sexual abuse by the then-Archbishop of Newark and several other priests and seminarians” and forwarded information to about 20 people, “including civil and ecclesiastical judicial authorities, police and lawyers, in June 2006.”
Archbishop Vigano continued, “The facts attributed to McCarrick by Littleton were of such gravity and vileness as to provoke bewilderment, a sense of disgust, deep sorrow and bitterness in the reader, and that they constituted the crimes of seducing, requesting depraved acts of seminarians and priests, repeatedly and simultaneously with several people, derision of a young seminarian who tried to resist the Archbishop’s seductions in the presence of two other priests, absolution of the accomplices in these depraved acts, sacrilegious celebration of the Eucharist with the same priests after committing such acts.”
He said he shared this information in a memo to his Church superiors in 2006, recommending that an “exemplary measure be taken against the Cardinal” to prevent public scandal to the Church, but he never received a response.
Archbishop Vigano's letter and other allegations of misconduct against Archbishop McCarrick have raised enough questions, the head of the U.S. bishops’ conference said Aug. 27, to warrant action.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, said in a statement Aug. 27 that the questions raised by Archbishop Vigano “deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence.” He reiterated an Aug. 16 call for an apostolic visitation, working with a national lay commission granted independent authority, to investigate the “many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick.”
“Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past,” he said.
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, Catholic News Herald; Catholic News Service
1987 — Archbishop McCarrick allegedly abuses unnamed seminarian for the Diocese of Metuchen in New York City. The former priest received a settlement from the Archdiocese of Newark and Diocese of Metuchen in 2007, as reported by The New York Times July 16, 2018.
1994 — The unnamed Metuchen priest writes a letter to Archbishop McCarrick's successor in Metuchen, Bishop Edward T. Hughes, stating that abuse he allegedly endured from Archbishop McCarrick and other priests triggered him to touch two 15-year-old boys inappropriately. In the letter he also claimed he saw Archbishop McCarrick having sex with a young priest and that the archbishop invited him to be next. The letter was in a file the priest provided to the Times on the condition his name not be used.
2004 — Unnamed priest who wrote letter to Bishop Hughes of Metuchen in 1994 claiming abuse by Archbishop McCarrick resigns under the U.S. church's new zero-tolerance policy against child abuse, based on his admission of having abused children in the 1994 letter.
2007 — Unnamed former priest of the Diocese of Metuchen who was allegedly abused as a seminarian in 1987 in New York by Archbishop McCarrick receives a secret settlement of $100,000 from the Diocese of Metuchen and the Archdiocese of Newark.
2018, July 16 — The New York Times publishes a front-page story detailing alleged abuse of two seminarians who became priests in the Diocese of Metuchen, by Cardinal McCarrick in the 1980s that resulted in settlements to both men. These are the settlements concerning "sexual misconduct with adults" as described by the Newark Archdiocese and Diocese of Metuchen June 20.
2018, July 28 — Pope Francis accepts the resignation of Cardinal McCarrick from College of Cardinals and suspends him from public ministry. The pope orders him to a "life of prayer and penance" until the accusations against him are examined in a canonical trial.