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Chancellor of Diocese of Charlotte resigns over sexual misconduct allegation

Monsignor Mauricio West has stepped down as vicar general and chancellor of the Diocese of Charlotte after an investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against him in the 1980s.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Diocese of Charlotte announced that Monsignor Mauricio West, second in command of the diocese, has resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct. 

West stepped down effect March 25, according to the Catholic News Herald. West served as vicar general and chancellor of the Diocese of Charlotte. 

The resignation was prompted after an allegation from a former student at Belmont Abbey College of "multiple instances of unwanted overtures" over a two-year period in the mid-1980s while Monsignor West served as the vice president of student affairs. 

Father Mo will remain a priest but will be on a "leave of absence from his ministerial duties" during a period of counseling and assessment. 

“While the alleged behavior did not constitute sexual abuse and did not involve a minor, it is the strict policy of the Diocese of Charlotte to refer all allegations by known accusers of potential sexual misconduct to the Lay Review Board for investigation,” Bishop Peter Jugis said in a statement. “Misconduct includes boundary violations and improper behavior by clergy, lay people and church volunteers involving children and adults.”

No criminal charges have been filed in the case at this time. 

Monsignor West served as chancellor of the Charlotte diocese for nearly 25 years. Before that, he served as an associate pastor at St. Gabriel Church in Charlotte. 

FULL STATEMENT FROM BISHOP PETER JUGIS

"The Diocese of Charlotte announces that Monsignor Mauricio West has stepped down from his position as vicar general and chancellor, effective Monday, March 25, 2019. His departure follows a recent finding by the Lay Review Board of the Diocese of a credible allegation of sexual misconduct.

The alleged events occurred in the mid-1980s when Monsignor West was the Vice President for Student Affairs at Belmont Abbey College, and involved multiple instances of unwanted overtures toward an adult student over a two-year period. In February, the individual met personally with the Lay Review Board to discuss the allegation.

Monsignor West has denied the allegation. During a period of counseling and assessment, he will be on a leave of absence from his ministerial duties.

While the alleged behavior did not constitute sexual abuse and did not involve a minor, it is the strict policy of the Diocese of Charlotte to refer all allegations by known accusers of potential sexual misconduct to the Lay Review Board for investigation. Misconduct includes boundary violations and improper behavior by clergy, lay people and church volunteers involving children and adults.

Personally, and on behalf of the Catholic Church, I extend our deepest apologies to the victim in this case and pray for all who have suffered from misconduct. The Diocese of Charlotte is committed to taking all necessary steps to root out all inappropriate behavior and to being open and transparent about our handling of all allegations of such conduct."

FULL STATEMENT FROM BELMONT ABBEY COLLEGE: 

We were sorrowful to learn this week that an allegation of sexual misconduct against Monsignor Mauricio West, a current diocesan priest and former Vice President for Student Affairs at Belmont Abbey College, has been determined to be credible. The misconduct allegedly occurred mid-1980s during Monsignor West’s tenure at Belmont Abbey and involved an adult student, who claims to have been a victim of unwanted advances by Monsignor West. 

Monsignor West has denied the allegations. Nonetheless, we are deeply sorry for the victim and have apologized personally to the individual. Although we cannot undo the past, we are dedicated to preventing such inappropriate behavior in the future. 

We are thoroughly committed to the prevention of sexual misconduct of any kind. We investigate and remediate all claims according to state and federal laws and provide regular training and education to members of the Abbey community on the prevention of sexual harassment and misconduct. 

While it is disheartening that a former student and our entire community have been hurt by this allegation, we are committed to honest and transparency in handling all allegations of misconduct. We pray for the healing of all who have suffered from clerical misconduct and remain dedicated to our mission and to the welfare of our students. We have cooperated fully with the Lay Review Board of the Diocese of Charlotte in this matter. 

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