Investigation into Possible Sex Crimes in Catholic Diocese of Charleston

By Sarah DeMarco and Matt Megrue
ABC 4 [South Carolina]
March 9, 2007

Charleston, SC — Another investigation into possible sex crimes in the Catholic Diocese of Charleston. A Dorchester County judge says no for now to a proposed 12 million dollar settlement for victims of sexual abuse.

Judge Diane Goodstein has ordered the 1st Circuit solicitor to investigate allegations that a so called "secret church archive" contains information about more victims.

It may not be just the victims who've kept their childhood sexual abuse stories to themselves...The attorney representing the victims says he believes the Church is also keeping things quiet....pointing to a document describing so called "secret archives," with information on more cases of sexual abuse.

"I really hope there aren't anymore victims...I really hope there's no cover up," Lawrence Richter, counsel representing the class of victims. Diocese of Charleston representatives say they have nothing to hide. "This is something lawyers have used before, making allegations about secret archives. The Diocese like any organization has a place where they keep things confidential," says Peter Shahid, representing the Diocese of Charleston.

John Morris believes the Diocese knew about the abuse he says he suffered from Father James Nyhan. He wishes those within his faith would have reached out sooner. "It affected my employment, alcoholism, interpersonal relationships because I find it very difficult to trust," says Morris.

Judge Goodstein had a difficult time trusting there aren't more victims, names that may be known if these "secret archives" exist. Judge Goodstein says she won't rule on the matter until the Solicitors Office can assure her there's been no with holding of information. The Diocese of Charleston represents all Catholic institutions in South Carolina and has agreed to fully comply with the Solicitors investigation.


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