Retired Catholic priest who once served in Virginia Beach accused of child sexual abuse

WVEC-TV, ABC-13 [Hampton VA]

July 19, 2023

By Dana Smith

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond said it is reviewing allegations of child sexual abuse made against a recently retired priest who once served in Virginia Beach.

The allegation of abuse against Father Walter Lewis took place at another parish — St. Anne Catholic Church in Bristol — in the 1980s.

The diocese said the allegation has been reported to the police and that Lewis is prohibited from any public ministry while the investigation is underway.

Lewis, who announced his retirement in May, denied the allegation.

According to the diocese, Lewis was ordained a priest in 1979 and served as pastor or parochial vicar at the following Virginia parishes:

  • Holy Spirit in Virginia Beach
  • St. Andrew in Roanoke
  • St. Anne in Bristol
  • St. Mary in Richmond
  • St. Bridget in Richmond
  • St. John Neumann in Powhatan
  • Good Samaritan in Amelia

“The diocese will not reach any conclusions regarding this allegation until the investigation concludes,” the diocese said in a news release.

This allegation against Lewis is just one of many Catholic Churches across the country are investigating.

On Friday, the U.S. Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection released its annual report on abuse allegations. It found that between July 2021 and June 2022, almost 2,000 abuse survivors came forward with more than 2,700 allegations.

The report said allegations involving current minors account for just 16 reports. All the other allegations are made by adults reporting alleged events that happened when they were children.

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond encourages individuals who have been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious, lay employee, or volunteer of the diocese to report abuse directly to law enforcement first, including Child Protective Services (CPS) at 1-800-552-7096. Individuals are also encouraged to contact the 24-hour confidential Victim’s Assistance Reporting number at 1-877-887-9603 or email