CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A Catholic priest in North Carolina will remain on administrative leave after allegations of sexual abuse against him were revealed last year, the Charlotte diocese's bishop said.
Bishop Peter Jugis made the announcement to St. Matthew parishioners in a letter Wednesday, writing that he had accepted the recommendation of the diocese’s Lay Review Board to keep the Rev. Patrick Hoare out of ministry, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Hoare was originally put on administrative leave in December after the diocese received “an allegation against him of child sexual abuse that was said to have occurred in Pennsylvania more than 25 years ago, before Father Hoare entered ministry” the Charlotte Observer quoted Jugis as writing.
The Bishop’s letter said officers from the Abington Township Police Department in Pennsylvania investigated the allegations and told the diocese in February they “found the claimants to be credible” but couldn’t bring charges against Hoare due to the statute of limitations.
That’s when Jugis said he asked the diocese’s board to conduct its own investigation into the allegations. The board found the allegations “credible,” but didn’t identify a “specific incident of sexual abuse of a minor,” the paper quotes Jugis as saying.
Jugis said the board also considered three complaints that allege Hoare showed “several instances of inappropriate physical contact with minors” at two Charlotte parishes, including at St. Matthew Catholic Church. The complaints involved a hug, rubbing the shoulders or abdomen of a minor, and being "very touchy,” the paper quotes Jugis as saying.
Hoare has previously denied the allegations, the Observer reported. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.