Diocese Comments on Lawsuit Claiming Sexual Abuse
Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston
February 8, 2008
WHEELING, W.Va. — The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston received notification on March 2, 2007, of an allegation of sexual abuse by one of its clergy, the Rev. Charles E. McCallister. The complaint was immediately reported to local authorities, and the Diocese cooperated with the local authorities during their investigation.
In the course of the investigation, Father McCallister denied any wrongdoing. In accordance with the Diocesan Policy on Sexual Abuse, Father McCallister was immediately suspended from his ability to exercise priestly faculties as a priest of the Diocese, pending completion of the investigation by local authorities. Additionally, the Diocese initiated its victim outreach program of assistance to the complainant and his family, which has been ongoing for some months.
While the investigation was ongoing, Father McCallister died on October 13, 2007. The Diocese was initially contacted by an attorney representing the individual and his family on October 16, 2007. Subsequently, it received notification of the filing of a lawsuit on the 7th day of February, 2008.
Prior to filing his Complaint, Plaintiff's counsel issued a press release. The Complaint alleges facts which are substantially embellished, exaggerated and inconsistent with Diocesan policies, Diocesan action in the case, the details and investigation of this claim and the actual conduct and history of the alleged victim. Just as it abhors misconduct, it also abhors misstatements and exaggerations designed to embellish a claim or cause of action.
We regret that Plaintiff's counsel chose to litigate his claims in the press. We will not respond in kind. Plaintiff's Complaint contains only allegations which are not proven and the Diocese will respond to the allegations in the litigation. The documented response of the Diocese in this case is clearly not accurately and factually reflected in the allegations of the Complaint.
The Diocese has maintained an active and ongoing program to address sexual abuse including the adoption of comprehensive policies and procedures, a victim outreach program, training of clergy, staff and volunteers, background checks, strict enforcement and reporting procedures and other safeguards designed to insure the safety of children.
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