Priest Accused of Obstructing Justice; Resigns

By David Perlmutt
Charlotte Observer
June 14, 2009

The pastor of an Asheville Catholic church resigned last week after he was charged with obstructing justice in a child pornography case, David Hains, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, confirmed tonight.

The Rev. John Schneider, pastor of St. Eugene Catholic Church in north Asheville since 2005, was charged last week with purging hundreds of child pornographic photos from the home computer of the church's former music minister to hinder a police investigation, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported.

A warrant accuses Schneider of going to former music minister Paul Berrell's apartment on May 18 and deleting hundreds of photos from Berrell's computer while he was being investigated. A grand jury indicted Berrell on two counts of indecent liberties with a minor and a count of statutory sex offense.

Diocese of Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis accepted Schneider's resignation last week, Hains said. The bishop and Schneider have known each other since 1983, when they were ordained together in the Charlotte diocese. The diocese covers churches in western North Carolina.

Schneider made a court appearance last week and was released after posting a $10,000 bond.

"The bishop's concern is for the spiritual life of the parish, and he has a personal concern for Father Schneider," Hains said. "These two men go back a long ways. A lot of people are going through a lot of stuff in Asheville, and the bishop believes they're all in need of prayer."

Until Schneider is replaced, a Jesuit priest will cover masses and confessions, Hains said.



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