Abuse Victim Asks City to Rename Kuder Street
By Susie C. Spear
October 21, 2018
|After construction of St. Joseph of the Hills Catholic Church on Boone Road in Eden was directed by Father William Kuder of Greensboro, a street was named after him on the other side of the trees to the left of the sanctuary. An elderly man has come forward asking that Kuder Street be renamed because he was abused by the priest during his time in Leaksville.|
A former Eden resident who alleges a past Catholic priest at St. Joseph of the Hills Catholic Church sexually abused him and his brother some 80 years ago, has asked city officials to change the municipal street that bears the disgraced priest’s name.
Father William J. Kuder, who allegedly committed crimes against the unnamed man and his brother, served as a priest at the church during the late 1930s and early 1940s, city officials said.
Kuder allegedly went on to abuse at least 10 children of an Asheville parish before his death in 1960. And he is known to the state’s Catholic leaders, who say they have no problem with a street name change.
While the church stands at 316 Boone Road, Kuder Street intersects with Boone Road just a few yards north. A dead end, the lane is home to one house and a city pump station.
|St. Joseph of the Hills Catholic Church can be seen through the trees on property next to Kuder Street in Eden. A roadway renaming request has been made by an elderly man who says he was abused by Father William Kuder as a child in Leaksville in the late 1930s.|
“We were contacted by someone two months ago, and I think the diocese has no objection” to the change, said David Hains, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, the church governing body that oversees Rockingham County parishes.
?The Eden City Council voted during its Tuesday, Oct. 16 meeting to schedule a public hearing on the issue during its Nov. 20 meeting.
If the council votes in November to change the name, a new sign can be created and erected swiftly, said Kelly Stultz, director of planning and inspections for the city.
The issue is “perhaps one of the most delicate things that I’ve ever been asked to do here,” Stultz told the council Tuesday night.
“The mayor received correspondence from a gentleman who expressed that we might want to do some research about the Catholic priest Kuder Street was named for,” Stultz said.
“This person (Kuder) has been deemed to be an abuser,” she said. “The man who sent us that letter was subject to that abuse, as was his brother and a lot of other kids.”
Stultz said on Wednesday that the victim, now elderly, decided to contact the city about Kuder’s crimes after frustration at seeing the street sign during a recent visit to his hometown.
|Kuder Street off Boone Road in Eden is a dead-end and contains one house and a city pump station. It was named after Father William Kuder, a Greensboro priest who directed construction of St. Joseph of the Hills Catholic Church which sits directly to the south of the road. It was later revealed that Kuder sexually abused boys, in Leaksville and other church parishes where he worked. One of the victims, now in his 80s, has asked Eden to rename the street.|
Church officials for St. Joseph of The Hills could not be reached for comment. But Stultz said the church had proposed to the city that Kuder Street be renamed to honor Joseph Mansfield, a textile executive who settled in Eden in the early part of the 20th century.
Mansfield, seeing the need for a Catholic church in Eden, was instrumental in establishing St. Joseph’s.
Kuder’s legacy of abuse extended to St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Candler, just west of Asheville, where he served after leaving Eden, according to allegations by victims and a 1995 acknowledgement of Kuder’s crimes by a North Carolina Roman Catholic bishop.
While at the Candler parish, Kuder sodomized and raped as many as 10 young boys, with one victim reporting the abuse extended through 1955. Kuder served at the church from June 1949 until he died of cancer in 1960, all according to a 1995 report by the Catholic News & Herald and a 2007 article by The Washington Post.
Three North Carolina brothers, Neal, Bob and Jim Evans, who were compensated by the Diocese of Raleigh with $250,000 each, spoke out beginning in 1995 about Kuder’s systematic abuse of each of them at St. Joan of Arc when they were between ages 9-13. The late Bishop William Curlin, who in 1995 was head of the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, subsequently visited the mountain congregation and apologized for Kuder’s crimes, calling them, “evil,” according to a March 11, 1995 report by The Charlotte Observer.
“I assure you that you were innocent of all sin,” Curlin told the congregation, which included Neal Evans. “You were a child who was abused and molested by a man who hid behind his priesthood and took advantage of it to use you for his personal pleasure,” Curlin said, according to the Charlotte article.
Troubled by the fact that their parents were buried only 20 feet from Kuder’s grave, the Neal brothers avoided visiting their parents’ Asheville resting place for years, The Washington Post reported in 2007.
That month, the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh helped the family find peace when church officials moved Kuder’s body out of the Roman Catholic section of Asheville’s Forest Lawn Cemetery to a burial site five miles away. The action was part of a legal settlement between the diocese and the Neals, according to the Post.
Diocese spokesman Hains from Charlotte said on Wednesday that a clearinghouse of links to news stories and information about Kuder and other priests accused of sexual abuse crimes can be found at bishopaccountability.org.
John Dornan, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, which oversaw Rockingham County parishes, including St. Joseph’s prior to 1972, responded to inquiries about the street name change and allegations against Kuder with a link to the parish website’s record of allegations against Kuder.
The site, at www.dioceseofraleigh.org lists Kuder as allegedly sexually abusing a minor in 1952 while serving within the Diocese of Raleigh.
The 1952 alleged abuse was reported in 1992 to the diocese and/or law enforcement, and subsequent accusations were made, though additional dates of alleged crimes are not listed, the site shows.