Former Priest Accused of Sexually Abusing a Clarksburg Teen

February 7, 2008

Lawyers say the boy was abused at least 50 times over a 3 year period.

WHEELING -- Lawyers for a Clarksburg man have accused a Catholic priest of sexually abusing their client over a three year period, starting in 2003.

They say Father Charles McCallister molested their client, who was 15 years old when the alleged abuse began.

McCallister was a priest at the Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksburg at the time.

He died in 2007.

The victim's lawyers said that they filed a lawsuit Thursday in Ohio County Circuit Court, that names the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, current Bishop Michael Bransfield, former Bishop Bernard Schmitt and the executor of McCallister's estate, as defendants.

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the defendants.

In the lawsuit, lawyers say McCallister molested the alleged victim at least fifty times over an approximate three year period, at the church and at other locations.

It also suggests that the Diocese had received at least one report of inapproriate contact between McCallister and a young boy, but took no action.

The suit says that psychological problems allegedly suffered by the victim caused him to attempt suicide on multiple occasions and withdraw from college.

The suit also claims that the case was investigated by the Harrison County Sheriff's Department and that prosecutors offered McCallister a plea deal. It goes on to say that when McCallister turned that offer down, felony arrests warrants were set to be issued for him. Three days later he was found dead in his home.

The Diocese issued the following statement: "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."

The alleged victim's lawyers say that because this is such a sensitive subject, the victim is not identified in the lawsuit, but is instead refered to as "John Doe". However, the lawyers say that the defendants have been told who the accuser is.

To read the full 38 page lawsuit, click below.

Read the Lawsuit


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