WCNC - NBC 36 [Charlotte NC]
October 4, 2021
By Nate Morabito
The Diocese of Charlotte said the allegation is against former Our Lady of the Assumption Church Pastor Francis P. Gillespie and stems from more than 20 years ago.
A former Charlotte priest, now 79-years-old, faces an allegation of child sexual abuse dating back 20 years.
The Diocese of Charlotte recently reported an allegation of child sexual abuse against former Our Lady of the Assumption Church Pastor Jesuit Father Francis P. Gillespie to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and Department of Social Services, pledging to “cooperate fully with any investigation,” according to a statement released to WCNC Charlotte Monday.
The diocese’s newspaper added the abuse allegedly occurred at the church in the mid-to-late 1990s and involved a student.
According to the diocese, Gillespie previously served as pastor at Our Lady of the Assumption Church and School from 1994 to 2001.
“His supervising religious order, the Jesuits, assigned him to ministry in the Diocese of Raleigh in 2002,” the statement read. “The Jesuits removed Fr. Gillespie from ministry (in Raleigh) on Sept. 29, while the allegation is investigated.”
The priest most recently worked at Saint Mary-Laurinburg in the Diocese of Raleigh.
According to a statement from the USA East Province of the Jesuits, the religious order will conduct a thorough investigation, including examination by an independent review board. The priest has since been removed from public ministry and remains under supervision while “the Province assists the investigation of this matter.”
“The policy of Jesuits USA East is to defer official comments until the investigation, and all related legal proceedings, have been concluded,” the statement says.
Fr. Gillespie is not listed on the Diocese of Charlotte’s accountability website. In a statement, the diocese said its independent review of personnel and other files in 2019 “found no record of allegations from anyone against Gillespie.”
“The Charlotte diocese has zero-tolerance for child sexual abuse and we encourage anyone who has been the victim of abuse to seek help and report to authorities,” the diocese said.
When contacted earlier Monday, a CMPD spokesperson said the agency could not “confirm or dispel the information at this time.”
The diocese said it alerted Our Lady of the Assumption parishioners over the weekend and school families too.