CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Those who have worked closely with cases of sexual abuse and cases of allegations of sexual abuse from within the Catholic Church say while the list released Monday by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte might provide validation for abuse victims, it is far from complete.
“It’s incomplete, there are names missing,” attorney Seth Langson said.
Langson has represented sex abuse survivors for over 30 years, including several against the Charlotte diocese. He says at least a handful of accused abusers' names weren’t included on the list released Monday.
“While trying to look transparent, they put out the least information they could," he said. "It was incomplete."
In total, the Diocese of Charlotte named 42 credibly accused clergy members and although many have since passed away, psychologist Frawley-O’Dea, Ph.D., says there is validation for the victims.
“There is no justice, you can’t undo what happened to someone, you can’t give them back their childhood, you can’t have a former alter-boy be 8 again and be safe instead of being disrobed after mass, but it’s the validation," Frawley-O'Dea said. "It’s not justice, but it’s the validation."
She says validation for the victims comes in seeing their abusers in print.
“There it is in black and white," Frawley-O'Dea said. "No one can tell a victim of Father Joe that it’s in his head or it’s made up because Father Joe is now on a list."
The list, Frawley-O'Dea said, is also important for members of the community to have as a way to protect themselves and their children.
“We now have in print that there were children that were abused in this church," Frawley-O'Dea said.
Langson said the Charlotte diocese was under deadline to release the list by the end of the year, and while they waited until the last few days, Langson says it could work in the victim’s favor.
As of December 1, a new law went into effect in North Carolina called the SAFE Child Act, which now extends the statute of limitations in child abuse cases.
“The most important thing it does is it gives everybody two years now to come forward and bring a lawsuit regardless of when they were abused," Langson said. "It could be 40 years old and they have two years to bring a lawsuit and the diocese is terrified of that."
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, who helped craft the new law signed by Governor Cooper in November, issued a statement Monday saying each of these victim survivors now has legal recourse available.
Monday, the Catholic diocese of Charlotte also announced they have set-up a hotline to report abuse allegations, but Langson and Dr. Frawley-O’Dea both say your first call should always be to police.
The attorney general released the following statement:
“The credible allegations of child abuse outlined in this report are devastating. I hope this action is part of a process to bring some closure and justice to the victim-survivors. Each of these victim-survivors has legal recourse available, including a two-year look back window for civil claims, regardless of the statute of limitations, that the SAFE Child Act made available to them.”