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Man goes to police with new sexual abuse allegations against two former priests

Douglas Dickerson said he came forward to Boone police after learning the statute of limitations had not run out.

BOONE, N.C. — A Boone man brought new allegations of sexual abuse against two former Diocese of Charlotte Catholic priests.

Douglas Dickerson said the abuse, in the early 1990s, occurred in western North Carolina and during a field trip to Carowinds. He spent seven hours meeting with Boone Police on Tuesday.

"Personally, it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders," Dickerson said. "I feel like that justice may be moving forward."

Dickerson said he tried to kill himself after one of the priests abused him when he was 13. Dickerson identified the priests as Cornell Bradley and Damion Lynch. Both men previously served at St. Elizabeth of the Hill Country Catholic Church in Boone.

"Within one hour of being sexually assaulted by Father Bradley inside the church, I climbed onto the church roof of St. Elizabeth's of the Hill Country and tried to jump off the roof, which is attached to the side of a mountain," Dickerson said.

He said the abuse led to stints in and out of a psychiatric hospital.

"I feel as if it robbed all of my childhood," said Dickerson.

This isn't the first time someone's accused the priests of abuse. Months ago, NBC Charlotte confirmed both men were the subject of previous allegations.

The Maryland Province Jesuits identified Bradley in December as a clergy member with multiple allegations of sexual abuse during the 1970s and 1980s in Maryland and Washington, D.C. before he came to Boone. 

In 2002, the Diocese of Charlotte admitted to paying a Boone family almost $80,000 after they said Lynch fondled twin brothers in the mid-90s.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Charlotte told us he found out about Dickerson's complaint on Tuesday.

"We encourage all victims of sexual abuse to come forward," David Hains said. "In addition, we want to reiterate our sincere apology to these victims and especially to any who suffered at the hands of clergy."

Church leaders from across the world wrapped up a sex abuse summit at the Vatican more than a week ago.

Pope Francis outlined 21 reflection points including "the right to defense: the principle of natural and canon law of presumption of innocence must also be safeguarded until the guilt of the accused is proven. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent the lists of the accused being published, even by the dioceses, before the preliminary investigation and the definitive condemnation."

The Diocese of Charlotte has not yet decided if it will release a list of credibly accused priests. Dickerson hoped his story will encourage the diocese to release the list and inspire other victims to come forward.

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