The List - Episode 1: The Who And The What
By Sarah Delia
December 2, 2019
WFAE’s “The List” is a four-part series about the impact of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church and the push for dioceses to release lists of credibly accused clergy. The Diocese of Charlotte is one of about 30 dioceses in the United States that, as of Dec. 1, 2019, hasn’t published such a list.
The following includes descriptions about sexual violence. Please be advised.
SARAH DELIA: I’ve been thinking a lot about lists and what they mean — why it’s helpful and important to write something down. Sometimes, lists are scribbles on a scrap piece of paper torn quickly from something larger, written in barely legible writing that make sense only to the person who wrote it: Remember to pick up dry cleaning. Remember to get milk. Remember to stop by the bank. Remember. Remember. Remember.
ANTHONY: I remember him telling me, “Don’t tell anybody about this. I did this because I love you. This is how God wants us to show each other that we love each other.”
And sometimes it’s fine if only one person understands the contents of a list. It’s fine if no one ever sees it besides that one person. Sometimes. But not all the time.
FATHER PATRICK WINSLOW: We try very hard to serve everyone involved but most especially victims.
Sometimes lists should be public and easily accessible. Those lists should be clearly printed and detailed. They should be widely distributed. Sometimes it’s important for everyone — not just one person — to remember something or someone.
ROBBY PRICE: It’s not about what the Catholic Church wants. It’s not about what Bishop Jugis wants. It’s about protecting kids and about protecting not only kids but any parishioner who was victimized by any member of the clergy.
That’s the type of list sexual abuse survivors are waiting for from the Charlotte Diocese. In May 2019, the bishop of the Charlotte Diocese, Peter Jugis, announced that a list of clergy who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse involving minors would be released. Jugis said the diocese was “committed to finishing the investigation and publishing a list of credibly accused clergy before the end of the year.” Now it’s December, and time is running out for the Charlotte Diocese to meet that deadline. And people are waiting.
TERENCE MCKIERNAN: You can lie about a terrible situation. You can even try to justify that lie to yourself. But the lie generally will come back to haunt you, which is really what the history of the abuse crisis in the United States and around the world is.
SETH LANGSON: It’s ridiculous. It’s outrageous. It shows that all they’re doing still is doing everything for appearances but nothing of substance.
Over this next four-part series, we’ll hear from survivors, lawyers, a watchdog, and the diocese itself as we look into the who, what, when, and why. Who within the Charlotte Diocese decides what a credible accusation is? Why is a list of credibly accused clergy important to survivors? How is an accusation reviewed? Why hasn’t a list been released from the Charlotte Diocese, especially when most dioceses in the United States have already done so?
But there will be people you won’t hear from.
CUT FROM VOICE MAIL FROM INVESTIGATIVE GROUP: You were coming to meet with us in the morning, I’m afraid we are going to have to cancel in talking with the client, we just think it’s probably not a good idea for us to meet.
And there will be some questions left unanswered —the two big ones being: Whose names will be on the list, and when exactly will it be made public?
READ THE TRANSCRIPT:
Episode 1: The Who And The What
This first episode we’re going to focus on the who and the what. Who wants this list published? What makes an informative list? Who is the Charlotte Diocese and what is it doing to combat the child abuse scandal?
I told you people are waiting for this list — attorneys, the public, but mostly, survivors.
ANTHONY: There’s a reason why they didn’t want to put this list out. Because if they start naming these priests, people are going to hear those names and then people are going to come forward.
DELIA: Fifty-three-year-old Anthony — he asked that we only use his first name — alleges that he was sexually abused by Richard Farwell. Farwell was a priest at St. Ann’s in south Charlotte where Anthony was an altar boy. The abuse began, he said, when he was around age 14.
Anthony made those allegations in a 2011 lawsuit filed in state court in Mecklenburg County.
ANTHONY: At the end of any conversation before he would say goodbye in the rectory or in the vestibule when I was taking off the robe and he would hug me goodbye. Yeah, he would be grinding on me. I would, you know, feel that erection starting to come. So, he was obviously turned on with showing affection to young boys.
DELIA: Anthony has waited years for a list to be released, which he hopes includes Richard Farwell’s name — some acknowledgment for his suffering. Farwell’s name on a list is really the least he could expect decades after Anthony alleges he was abused. He said the abuse he suffered — which we’ll get into in more detail later in this episode — took away the innocence of his childhood. It took away his faith in the Catholic Church.
ANTHONY: I know as a Christian — you know, today I’m not Catholic anymore — that I should forgive people who offend you. And I can tell you as of this point, I haven’t done that. And if I ran into Farwell on the street, God help my soul, and he’d better hope the police get there before because I would be liable to hurt him. And I hate to be that kind of person or mentality. That’s not how I teach my children, by no means. It’s not how I act with people in my community, but I have so much disdain and hate for that man.
DELIA: So Anthony’s been waiting. Waiting, and waiting.
And so has Terence McKiernan, the founder of the nonprofit watchdog group BishopAccountability.org. McKiernan collects legal documents, interviews survivors and analyzes lists released by dioceses.
TERENCE MCKIERNAN: The bishops and superiors of religious orders have been dragged kicking and screaming into a kind of transparency about this, and I applaud them and support them that they are finally coming out with lists. But they’ve done it very reluctantly. And unfortunately, very often the lists are still incomplete.
DELIA: He was living in Boston when news broke in 2002 about the widespread sexual abuse of children by clergy and the coverup scandal that involved moving priests accused of misconduct to work in other parishes. It was the subject of the 2015 film “Spotlight” named after the Boston Globe’s investigative team that uncovered how deep the abuse went.
MCKIERNAN: And I was going to church every Sunday, taking my kids to church every Sunday. So inevitably, especially in Boston, the crisis really did hit me very hard. I can absolutely understand people who just left because they were so distressed. But for some reason, that wasn’t my reaction. My reaction was that this needed to be understood and paid attention to and scrutinized. And we all needed to really think this through together, and if the church was going to survive this and emerge from it a better church, it was going to need people to really concentrate on what had gone wrong.
DELIA: McKiernan says the goal of BishopAccountability.org is to create a neutral space for the public to have access to information regarding credibly accused clergy. The website actually has its own database of accused priests.
He says the Charlotte Diocese is one of the last to release a list.
MCKIERNAN: It really is quite remarkable that over 140 dioceses in the United States, out of a total of 178, have now released lists. So, it certainly is true that Charlotte is late in releasing its list.
DELIA: And since I spoke to McKiernan, that number has gone up. At least 146 dioceses have released lists.
He says one good thing about being late to the game is Charlotte can look at what makes an informative list because there isn’t a standard format. Each diocese can create the list the way it wants, the bishop of the diocese is the one calling the shots as far as when it’s released and what information is included.
The Charlotte Diocese is relatively young. It was established in 1972, and it’s made up of 46 counties of western North Carolina. That includes 92 parishes and missions, 19 Catholic schools and St. Joseph College Seminary in Charlotte. It’s a member of what’s called the Ecclesiastical Province of Atlanta. That includes the dioceses of Charlotte, Raleigh, Atlanta, Savannah (Georgia) and Charleston (South Carolina). Out of that group, the Charlotte Diocese is the only one that has not yet to release a list.
I told you not all lists are created equally. For example, McKiernan points to the list released by the Atlanta Diocese, which includes assignment histories of priests — where and when they worked and if they moved. Numerous investigations in multiple cities have found that the church moved abusers to protect them from legal ramifications.
MCKIERNAN: That’s probably the first criterion when you look at a list and you’re trying to decide, is this really the kind of information I need? Have they admitted where the priests have served? Because, of course, an assignment list is a list of the parishes where that accused priest may very well have abused a child. If you’re not even going to admit his whereabouts, you really haven’t even gotten to first base with your list.
DELIA: Other dioceses do less. McKiernan points to the Raleigh Diocese, which only includes names of the accused, the year the alleged abuse occurred, the year it was reported, and if the accused is alive or dead. No assignment histories are included or details of the abuse. I reached out to the Raleigh Diocese, but it declined to do an interview. In an email, Dr. John Pendergrass with the Raleigh Diocese said, “It is important to note that there is no unified process for doing this or making this decision. Each Diocese creates the process and makes the choice. There is variety in the format and process of these lists.”
McKiernan has higher hopes for the Diocese of Charlotte.
MCKIERNAN: I really hope that they not only list the assignments but provide the start and stop years for each assignment, because that allows us to see, well, what gaps are there in that assignment history? How often was the priest transferred? Was he transferred outside of the diocese at some point? And, if he was, does the list specify where he went and where he was working when he was away from the diocese? All of this information is part of the kind of transparency we really need to understand what the crisis involved in the Charlotte Diocese.
DELIA: Other dioceses outside the South have gone further when it comes to information and transparency. McKiernan says the more information available to survivors and the public, the better.
MCKIERNAN: The Sacramento Diocese out in California is a real exception in providing detailed information about the alleged abuse. We really admire them for doing that and we would really encourage the bishop in Charlotte to bite the bullet and do that. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it transforms the list from something that’s useful but still difficult to work with into something that’s truly revealing, and I think truly healing as well.
DELIA: And it’s that healing that survivors have been waiting for. And the longer they wait, the more frustrated they understandingly become.
ANTHONY: The trauma that a victim or survivor has had is already there. It’s not going to go away.
DELIA: Anthony says the abuse he experienced is still with him. Richard Farwell was well-liked and trusted, Anthony says, which made coming to terms with what happened to him extremely difficult and hard to talk about.
ANTHONY: He was he was very charismatic and appeared to be caring. He liked to hug people. Being that my stepmother was an alcoholic and I was having some troubles at home with some rebellion, I was searching for some type of acceptance and some type of, you know, love or understanding.
DELIA: As a self-described troubled teen, Anthony appreciated the attention. His mother died when he was a toddler and his father remarried quickly. He never got along with his stepmother, he says, and he acted out. That included sneaking out of his house at night and going to concerts. One time, it included hitchhiking.
ANTHONY: I snuck out of the house to go to my first concert at the old Charlotte Coliseum. It was Ted Nugent, I believe, and I knew I was going to get myself in a lot of big trouble. So, I decided at that point to run away from home, and I hitchhiked up to Chicago. I was picked up by a truck driver, and I was anally raped at 14 years old.
DELIA: He didn’t tell his parents about the rape, but he says they could sense something was wrong. Being the devout Catholics they were, Anthony’s father and stepmother told him to go to confession to talk about what was bothering him. And the priest he confessed to was Richard Farwell at St. Ann’s in Charlotte.
ANTHONY: I think once he heard about what happened hitchhiking that he — that’s where he began to start grooming me. That’s where the extended hugs and the grinding on me was. It’s also he would buy me Polo cologne, argyle socks, Members Only jackets, and start buying those types of things for me to build the trust and that relationship.
DELIA: Anthony alleges that after he confided in Farwell about the rape, the abuse began. Anthony says Farwell would go to his swim meets and take pictures of Anthony in his Speedo. Anthony says Farwell brought him gifts. He showed him attention when Anthony felt no other adult in his life did. That attention, Anthony says, included long hugs, sexual in nature.
Anthony says his family had complete trust in Farwell and when Anthony’s father placed him at Baptist Children’s Home in 1984, a nonprofit that offers housing and programs to children in crisis, Farwell regularly visited Anthony there. Farwell developed a trust with the staff — so much so it wasn’t uncommon for Farwell to take Anthony offsite to attend Mass. On one occasion, according to the lawsuit Anthony filed in 2011, Farwell took Anthony off the premises and sexually molested him in his car while they were near the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The relationship between Anthony and his parents was so strained that he wasn’t invited home for Thanksgiving. Remember, the year was 1984. By now, Anthony was around 17. Anthony says during Thanksgiving break Farwell told him he could stay with him at the rectory of Sacred Heart in Salisbury, where Farwell had been transferred.
ANTHONY: I got out of the shower and had my towel around me and went into the room where I was sleeping for the weekend. And he was sitting on a bed, and when I walked into the room he pulled me towards me and removed the towel. He then performed oral sex on me. My young body reacted. It felt, it felt wrong. I’ve always been a really little guy. I wasn’t much more than maybe 110 pounds. Because when I wrestled at Charlotte Catholic High School, I wrestled for the 105 weight class. And he was a lot bigger. Afterwards I remember him telling me, “Don’t tell anybody about this. And this is… I did this because I love you and this is… this is how God wants us to show each other that we love each other.“
DELIA: Anthony said he planned to kill himself after the encounter. Before he returned to the Baptist Children’s Home, he said he swiped some of Farwell’s prescription drugs from his medicine cabinet. But the staff found the prescriptions before Anthony could go through with it, and he was confronted.
ANTHONY: And they said, “Well, why do you have this? This is from Richard Farwell.“ And so, I said, “Well, I’m planning on killing myself.“ They found a knife. And they asked what that was for. I said, “Well, I’m going to cut my wrists.“
DELIA: He was transferred to the now–closed Appalachian Hall psychiatric hospital in Asheville for a 30-day stay. According to the lawsuit, as a result of Farwell’s sexual abuse of Anthony, Anthony attempted to commit suicide at least seven times.
Anthony tried to pursue criminal charges in Rowan County, where the Thanksgiving incident allegedly occurred. It was ultimately dismissed, but another victim, who is now deceased, was able to successfully pursue criminal charges against Farwell. According to court documents, in 2004, as part of a plea agreement, Farwell pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Pleading no contest still results in a conviction and the court still administers a punishment. According to court records in Farwell’s case, that meant 18 months of supervised probation and paying a $1,000 fine. Farwell was also ordered to undergo psychiatric counseling and complete 100 hours of community service after agreeing to the plea in Rowan County Superior Court. Despite his plea, Farwell said the charges were false.
Anthony pursued a civil suit in Mecklenburg County in 2011, over two decades after the alleged abuse occurred. The case was dismissed based on the statute of limitations. When Anthony filed his suit North Carolina law stated that sexual abuse victims who are minors only had three years from the time they turned 18 to file a civil suit.
The law recently changed. As of Dec. 1, 2019, survivors have until they are 28 to file a suit. Even if the law had changed by the time the suit was filed, Anthony would have been in his mid-40s, and it would have been almost impossible for him to win his case based on the statute of limitations.
The lawsuit did include correspondence between Farwell and the Charlotte Diocese when Farwell was sent to the House of Affirmation — a treatment center for priests with psychological and psychosexual problems. It closed in 1990. The lawsuit says while Farwell was seeking treatment for alcoholism and sex addiction in 1985, parishioners of Sacred Heart were told Farwell was taking an assignment in Rhode Island for four months. In reality, Farwell went to the House of Affirmation, a detail left out so as not to alarm parishioners, the suit said.
The lawsuit also alleges that the Charlotte Diocese destroyed and or fraudulently concealed numerous documents that would have shown Farwell’s sexual misconduct. In a response filed by the diocese, it denied Anthony’s accusations and any destruction of documents.
Farwell has been permanently removed from ministry since 2002, which means he cannot act in any capacity as a priest, can’t wear priestly dress, can’t perform any sacraments, and cannot present himself as a priest or be called “Father.” I reached out to Farwell via certified mail, email and by phone to alert him of this series and to see if he wanted to comment. Besides postal confirmation he received my letter via certified mail, I never heard back from him.
I told you earlier that Anthony is no longer a practicing Catholic. Richard Farwell’s actions made sure of that, he says. But there’s something about growing up Catholic and the rituals around the sacraments and mystery behind it all that can stick with you.
DELIA: Is there anything you miss about the Catholic Church?
ANTHONY: No. Well. Yeah.
DELIA: It’s not that he misses the Catholic Church, he says, but he does miss Catholic friends and family. And while he won’t set foot in a Catholic Church, he does find himself, maybe just out of habit, doing the little things so many Catholics do.
ANTHONY: Well, look, I’ll find myself still doing, you know, “In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost.“ OK? When my children were born, you know, “En el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espíritu Santo.“ I did the sign of the cross on every one of them, their heart and their forehead, a dozen times in English and Spanish, I don’t know, as a good luck thing or whatever, you know? But yeah, I’ll find myself with some, you know, some things that I grew up with Catholic that I‘ll find myself subconsciously doing.
DELIA: So, while Anthony may occasionally make the sign of the cross, the lingering parts of Catholicism are like an old reflex rather than an active way of thinking.
Farwell won’t face criminal or civil penalties in Anthony’s case.
So what Anthony is waiting for, what he wants, is some acknowledgment about what happened to him. That, he says, will come in the form of the list.
ANTHONY: Justification — all the work and fight that I did to try to expose it — that it’s been acknowledged. Here you go. For other survivors, I think they would feel the same way. It’s not going to traumatize to see that name on there. If anything, it’s going to encourage people to say, “You know what, there’s been 12 allegations with this priest‘s name, and I’ve been silent this long. Now I can be brave, and I can stand up.“
DELIA: But who gets to decide if Farwell’s name should be on the list? It’s findings by an investigative firm hired by the diocese. It’s the lay review board composed of members appointed by the bishop. That review board then makes a recommendation to the most powerful person in the Charlotte Diocese as to whether or not an accusation is credible — Bishop Peter Jugis. We get to how they make their decisions — best we can — next time.
We want to hear your comments, questions, and stories. If you’ve experienced abuse within the Catholic Church or have a particular question you’d like explored, leave us a voice memo at 704-448-6511. You don’t have to leave your name but know your audio may be published online or the air. You can email Sarah directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.