Episode 4 : the When
By Sarah Delia
December 5, 2019
In Episode 4 of ďThe List,Ē we explore what might happen when the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte releases a list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual misconduct and abuse. The diocese says it plans to release names by the end of 2019. We hear from an advocate with personal experience whoís there to listen to other survivors of abuse and from North Carolinaís attorney general. And we hear how the crisis has shaped survivorsí views on not just the Catholic Church but faith in general.
The following includes descriptions about sexual violence. Please be advised.
READ THE TRANSCRIPT:
Episode 4: When
SARAH DELIA: When the independent investigative firm U.S. ISS Agency has completed its historical review of files of the Charlotte Diocese, what will its findings say? When the review board for the diocese has looked at all the facts and findings presented to them, what will its recommendations to Bishop Peter Jugis be? And when Bishop Jugis reviews those recommendations, what will the result look like?
When the list of credibly accused clergy is released, what and who will be on it, and will it be complete?
Survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests hope the end result will be a comprehensive list with their abuserís name printed on it for all to see ó to acknowledge what happened to them, but also to warn others. One of those survivors is Robby Price, who was sexually abused by Robert Yurgel in 1999. Yurgel was a priest at St. Matthew in Charlotte. Price spoke to me via Skype.
ROBBY PRICE: You need to help abuse survivors. You need to ensure that all those that youíre supposedly looking out for that are part of your flock in Charlotte are safe. Release the list.
DELIA: The list is forthcoming ó we just donít know the exact date. In May of 2019, Bishop Jugis announced in a statement that the diocese was committed to publishing a list of credibly accused clergy by the end of the year. And in August, Father Patrick Winslow, the second in command at the diocese, said he was confident the diocese would not only meet that deadline but that the list would be detailed with information.
PATRICK WINSLOW: We hope to provide by the end of the year a complete and total list that is thorough that has left no stone unturned.
DELIA: And thatís what watchdogs and advocates for survivors, like Terence McKirenan from the nonprofit group bishopaccountability.org, are expecting ó because people have been waiting for this list for some time now.
TERRY MCKIERNAN: I know for a fact that sometimes Charlotte got problem priests from other dioceses. Is the Charlotte list going to include those priests or not? Completeness is a really important question to ask when a list comes out. Is the information usable and complete, or is the list a real bare-bones list that isnít going to get us very far?
DELIA: Out of the 178 dioceses in the country at last 146 have released lists.
Complete, thorough, detailed, comprehensive. Everyone says they want the list to be described by those words, but will everyone at the end of the day feel those are accurate adjectives to describe the list?
Short of saying the review process is ongoing and that the plan is still to release a list by the end of the year, weíre still waiting for a release date.
This episode, we look at when a list is released, how do survivors feel? And when a list is released, how does a diocese field feedback from the public and the media?
Remember, North Carolina is made of two dioceses. The Charlotte Diocese consists of 46 counties in the western part of the state, and the Raleigh Diocese claims the rest of the 54 counties in the eastern portion of the state.
In the fall of 2018, the Raleigh Diocese released a list of credibly accused clergy. The Raleigh Diocese declined to speak to me for this series.
I wanted to ask the Raleigh Diocese how it decided what information to include on its list because, as we know by now, there is no standard or mandate as to what additional information, besides names, goes on a list.
And Charles Bailey of the Raleigh SNAP Chapter ó thatís the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests ó wants to know the same thing. He says many survivors were upset by the list when it came out because they felt it was incomplete.
CHARLEY BAILEY: Outright annoyed or plain old outraged because how they judge credibility and how you and I judge credibility are totally different standards. I mean, there are several that are not on the list that have survivors that have come forward and because they ó the church ó deems it not credible, it doesnít get reported.
DELIA: And Bailey says he understands all too well the trauma of sex abuse within the Catholic Church.
In his book ďIn The Shadow of the CrossĒ Bailey recounts in raw details the abuse he says he experienced as a child by Thomas Neary. Neary was a priest within the Syracuse Diocese in New York. Bailey says the abuse began in the fall of 1961 when he was 10 years old. Bailey says Neary gained the trust of his mother. Neary told his mother Bailey would be an outstanding priest.
BAILEY: That if he could privately counsel me and all that, you know, Iíd be a super priest. And so, my mother, being an Irish Catholic, she was just through the moon. I was the second-born son, so it was my job to be the family priest in an Irish Catholic family. She was just ecstatic over the fact he would take me under his wing and counsel me. But he was raping me is what he was doing. Heís telling her he was counseling me.
DELIA: In 2018, the Syracuse Diocese released a list of credibly accused priests, and Thomas Nearyís name was one of the 57 on it.
Neary had died by then, so Bailey never got a chance to see if he would face any consequences. But Bailey says seeing Nearyís name on a list was no small thing.
BAILEY: Finally got some verification, if you will. Some people were saying, ďOh, no, not him.Ē You know, I even had somebody call me and say, ďOh, he never abused me, and I was an altar boy under him.Ē I never said he did everyone he met, but we had probably in the vicinity of 200 people come forward ó 200 other men were abused as boys. He had a 45-year career raping young boys, so it brought so many men forward. Iím 68. There was some a lot older than me and a lot younger than me, and some said, you know, that I was the only one theyíve ever told, and, you know, their wife doesnít know or their family doesnít know, but as long as they felt some validation that they could at least, you know, get some satisfaction from the knowledge that he was finally exposed. Thatís the only way you can stop these people is to expose them. They donít stop on their own.
DELIA: The Syracuse Diocese didnít always plan to release a list like the one it did in October of 2018. In fact, the diocese had a previous policy that it would confirm the names of abusive priests only after victims went public with their accusations.
The bishop at the time, Bishop Robert Cunningham, previously said the diocese was withholding a public list due to dissenting opinions among survivors of abuse.
BAILEY: Iíve been answering the SNAP national hotline for 18 years, and three days a week for the last dozen years or so, Iíve spoken with in excess of 5,000 survivors, and I have yet to meet one that does not want their perpetratorís name exposed. Thatís a fallacy put on by every bishop Iíve ever spoken to ó ďWell the victims donít want the name out there.Ē Well, thatís a lie. I mean, I donít know any other way to word it, but thatís a lie because once their name is out there, other folks can come forward, other people can start their healing process.
DELIA: The reality, Bailey says, is that many survivors will be disappointed when a list comes out. Some survivors will be scanning through the list, their eyes searching for a familiar name, and that name wonít be there.
BAILEY: Maybe you could convey some way or somehow that that if your abuserís not on this list, not to be discouraged because thatís how they operate. And I say Iím sorry, but you know, I know it should be there and for whatever reason theyíre not listening.
DELIA: But Bailey is listening.
Charles Bailey with the Raleigh SNAP Chapter has been an advocate for survivors for years. He says he listens when survivors need an ear. Bailey says along with his wife, Sue, the couple offers peer counseling. And he speaks for survivors who, for whatever reason, canít publicly speak about their abuse.
Recently, he was an advocate for new legislation that passed in the North Carolina General Assembly, which among many things, raised the age for sex abuse survivors to file a civil lawsuit from 21 to 28.
Bailey says he knows how hard it can be to speak publicly about abuse. Bailey is now 68. He says he didnít start speaking openly about the abuse until he was 52.
BAILEY: I mean itís not something you come forward with and disclose because of all the stigma attached to it. So, the folks that have been abused since 2002, it may be 10, 20, 30, 40 years before they come forward because as a young kid, you know, I was a teenage boy ó who am I going to tell? Iím not going to tell anybody. Then I was a young married man with my wife, and who wants to tell their wife this happened to them? And then we had four kids and raising them, and by the time I felt comfortable enough to share this with my wife, weíd been married 30 years. So, itís because of the stigma and the emotions and the hate thatís thrown upon you when you disclose. I mean, I was extremely close to one of my older sisters, and now she wonít even know my name. I had to refer to her as Jane Doe in my book. I mean, itís just pathetic, you know ó the victim blaming that goes on.
DELIA: North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein was also a supporter and advocate of Senate Bill 199, and heís been publicly encouraging the Charlotte Diocese to release a list of credibly accused clergy. Even though Stein is glad the recent legislation passed, heís disappointed that the age to file a civil suit isnít higher.
JOSH STEIN: I am dissatisfied with that figure. If you talk to victims, if you talk to psychiatrists, they will tell you that it is very common that the severity of a trauma that a child experiences whoís subject to child abuse, it can take them years to be in a place where they can emotionally deal with it. Thatís the nature of trauma. And I think that at 28 is too young an age to expect an adult to process ó a young adult ó to process what happened to them as a child.
DELIA: Stein says there is currently a two-year look-back period with this new legislation. It means anyone who experienced abuse as a minor can file a civil suit over the next two years, no matter what their current age is.
Stein says bringing forth a lawsuit against the diocese is just like any other kind of lawsuit when someone feels like theyíve been harmed.
STEIN: I would be confident that the vast majority of cases brought were valid. Does that mean everyoneís valid? No. There may be some that arenít, but thatís true of slander or defamation or anything else.
DELIA: Another part of this legislation clarifies who must report suspected abuse and to what agency. Now all adults who suspect abuse must report to the police.
In an October 2018 interview with WSOC-TV, David Hains, the former spokesperson for the Charlotte Diocese, said the practice of the diocese was to report abuse to the Department of Social Services.
DAVID HAINES: In the Diocese of Charlotte, the authority that weíve been going to for the last 15 years is the Department of Social Services.
DELIA: Attorney General Josh Stein says the new law is straightforward and leaves no room for interpretation.
STEIN: Basically, I got tired of reading stories about priests that were abusing children and there were archbishops who knew, or gymnast coaches who were abusing children and the administrators knew, and they didnít do anything to protect those kids, and other kids were subsequently abused. And itís unacceptable. If you are an adult and you know that a child is being sexually abused by someone, it is your legal obligation to let law enforcement know. Thereís nothing more important than keeping kids safe.
DELIA: There are some details we do know regarding what information should be on the list when the Charlotte Diocese releases it.
First, the diocese says the list will include all credible accusations dating back to 1972 when the diocese formed. It will include any clergy that, at any point, served in the Charlotte Diocese and had a credible accusation against them. So even if a priest abused someone in a New Jersey church and then moved and worked in a church in Charlotte but didnít abuse anyone in Charlotte, that priest should still be on the Charlotte diocese list.
And clergy means not only priests, but also ordained deacons and bishops.
Hereís a portion of my August interview with Father Patrick Winslow, second in command of the Charlotte Diocese.
DELIA: Just to make sure Iím understanding correctly with the list, it sounds like itís going to include the name of the credibly accused, and the incident around the accusation, and then also the assignment history?
WINSLOW: Yes. We will provide relevant information to help the community and to help all of those who have been affected or may have been affected in the past to understand what happened.
DELIA: The list will also include the names of priests who have credible accusations found against them, whether they are alive or dead ó something the diocese went back and forth on. For example, David Hains, the former spokesperson for the diocese, told WSOC-TV in October of 2018 that itís a challenge to be fair to everyone accused of abuse.
HAINS: Some of these are personal matters involving people who are dead, and allegations have surfaced after theyíve died, and itís very difficult to be fair to that person who is gone.
DELIA: And the list should include ordered and diocesan priests. The main difference between the two is that parish/diocesan priests work within a diocese. Ordered priests donít belong to one particular diocese but are sent or assigned to where they are needed. So, if a particular church is low on priests, the bishop might call on an ordered priest to serve at a parish.
In an email, the diocese told me ďitís important to note that this list could grow and change if new information comes to light.Ē
And thatís not uncommon.
The diocese also pointed out that since the charter in 2002, abuse accusations have been reported publicly in the Catholic News Herald, the paper of the diocese. The bishop is the publisher of that paper. The diocese says most of those cases involved abuse that occurred years earlier, but the allegations were not made known to the diocese until sometime after 2002.
I wanted to talk to the diocese in more detail. The Charlotte Diocese did have a scheduled media event in August of 2019, but declined multiple interview requests since then, communicating primarily through email. We also asked if the diocese would like to comment on Anthony or Robby Priceís cases, but they declined.
When the Charlotte Diocese publishes its list, how will the diocese disseminate information to those in the pews and the public?
Different dioceses around the country have reacted in different ways when it comes to addressing the sex abuse crisis. In the fall of 2018, the San Diego Diocese held a series of listening sessions open to the public in order for the bishop to hear feedback on what people thought should be done to combat the crisis. KPBS, the NPR station in San Diego, reported that 300 people attended the first listening session.
The San Diego Diocese, along with five other dioceses in California, started a compensation program for victims.
Chip Wilson, the former Charlotte Observer reporter now Catholic deacon featured in Episode 3, told me that when he describes why he loves the Catholic church, he comes back to a James Joyce quote.
CHIP WILSON: Their definition of the church was, ďHere comes everybody.Ē Thatís held true for me. You know, I worship every week with people from a number of different countries, different native languages. And Iím in a relatively small town, but thereís a cultural and economic diversity I just havenít seen in other faith communities.
DELIA: Many Catholics feel that. They feel the warmth of the church ó an acceptance, a reassurance and comfort in the sacraments and mystery within the stained-glass windows. ďHere comes everybody.Ē A community.
But thereís another part of the population who donít see themselves as that everybody. For some, the Catholic Church is the opposite of community. It is no longer a place of comfort and refuge.
Thatís the case for Anthony, featured in our first episode. He alleged in a civil lawsuit that Richard Farwell abused him at St. Ann in the 1980s. Anthony found a home at a nondenominational church but says heíll never return to a Catholic parish.
ANTHONY: I will not set foot in a Catholic church. Weíve got some friends and their children were confirmed, and we went to the afterparty because they know how I feel. And I said I canít go to the service. You know, if itís gonna be a wedding or a funeral, Iím not going. Iím not gonna do it. I donít care if it was my own father.
PRICE: I never found my way back to the Catholic Church, and I donít believe I ever will.
DELIA: Thatís Robby Price who was abused by Robert Yurgel at St. Matthew in 1999. Yurgel was convicted of second-degree sex offense in 2009.
PRICE: I consider myself a spiritual person, and I have encouraged my family members, my family, my son, to explore whatever religion he feels might be right for him or to not explore whatever religion. I think itís a very personal thing. And what happened to me has irreparably damaged what religion is in my mind. But I feel like there are good people within every organization. If someone could find peace or find love or find what theyíre looking for within an organization such as the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte or any other, I encourage it. But itís not for me.
DELIA: And Charles Bailey with the Raleigh SNAP chapter echoes Robby Priceís sentiments. After what he says he experienced, organized religion is something he could never return to.
BAILEY: I have a personal relationship with God. I love God. Heís in my life, but itís between me and God. I donít need a middleman. Just like the Bible says: ďYou need no priest but me.Ē I kind of have a direct link between myself and the Lord. I donít need to go to a building somewhere and listen to somebodyís interpretation.
DELIA: All of these survivors have had to search outside the walls of the Catholic Church to find their community ó to feel heard, to feel believed, to feel like their story matters, to find others who will listen to their gospel, their truth. Often, that community is found in organizations like SNAP or support groups.
So, when the list does come out, where and how the information about the list is shared matters to survivors. If a news conference or public prayer is held within church walls, it will be hard for some survivors to attend, because theyíve had to find a new type of church outside the one they grew up in.
That new church is a community survivors sometimes find with others who have experienced what they have ó abuse. Itís found within others who are waiting for the same thing: acknowledgment, validation, the list.
We want to hear your comments, questions, and stories. If youíve experienced abused within the Catholic Church or have a particular question youíd like explored, leave us a voice memo at 704-448-6511. You donít 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.
ďThe ListĒ is reported, hosted, and produced by Sarah Delia.
Greg Collard is the editor, with additional editing support from Ju-Don Marshall.
Alex Olgin helped with the fact checking and production of this series.
Illustrations were created by Gregory Harris. Web production was by Jennifer Lang and Dashiell Coleman.
You can find Sarah on Twitter at @SarahWFAE. Keep the conversation going with the hashtag #WFAEthelist. Find more information about The List at wfae.org/thelist.
If you are interested in more episodes like this, make sure you check out earlier episodes in the ďShe SaysĒ series. ďShe SaysĒ is an investigative podcast that follows the winding road a sexual assault survivor must navigate in order find justice and healing. Find ďShe SaysĒ where ever you find your podcasts or at wfae.org/shesays.