Child Sex Abuse Civil Lawsuits Filed against Catholic Diocese of Charlotte
By Marvin Beach
April 14, 2020
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte is facing a pair of civil lawsuits over alleged child sex abuse. Two men argue the diocese didn’t do enough to protect them.
Previously, the statute of limitations in the cases had run out.
But the North Carolina General Assembly has opened up a two-year window for victims to file cases, acknowledging it often takes years for them to come forward.
“They feel like this is an opportunity to be heard,” explains Sam McGee, the attorney for the alleged victims.
“When these things were happening, you basically have absolute authority figures that people were taught not to question, taking advantage of just, kids,” McGee says.
One of the victims, an alter boy, says he went to Father Richard Farwell for counseling in 1984.
The suit claims Farwell took advantage of the 14-year-old boy’s vulnerability and sexually abused him at St. Ann Catholic Church in Charlotte and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Salisbury.
The diocese says Farwell was later removed from ministry and now lives in Florida.
The other victim, was also 14, when he says he went to Father Joseph Kelleher for counseling at Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic Church in Albemarle.
He claims Kelleher gained his trust before sexually assaulting him several times in the church’s rectory between 1977 and 1978.
Kelleher died in 2014.
“These guys have had a wrecking ball through their lies because of the abuse they suffered, and the priests haven’t faced real accountability for it, and in my opinion, the diocese hasn’t faced real accountability,” McGee says.
The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte released this statement in response to the lawsuits:
“The Diocese of Charlotte is aware of two lawsuits, pertaining to allegations that date back to the 1970s and 1980s, filed Monday by individuals whose claims against the diocese were previously dismissed by the North Carolina courts. We disagree that the diocese is liable to the plaintiffs and will respond to the litigation in court at the appropriate time. The diocese takes allegations of child sexual abuse very seriously and remains committed to providing a safe environment for all people, especially the young and vulnerable.”