CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte announced Tuesday that additional allegations of sexual misconduct have been found credible against former chancellor Monsignor Mauricio West.
The allegations of sexual misconduct involving adults were found credible in four alleged incidents in the 1980s and early 1990s. West continues to be on administrative leave.
“The finding of a credible allegation is not a finding of guilt but is an allegation of improper behavior that both the diocese and the college take seriously,” a statement from the Diocese of Charlotte read.
The additional allegations emerged after the diocese announced in March that West had stepped down from his position as chancellor of the diocese. He was placed on administrative leave in March following Lay Review Board of the Diocese’s finding of a “credible allegation of sexual misconduct.”
The alleged events happened in the mid-1980s when West was the vice president for student affairs at Belmont Abbey College, according to the diocese. The allegations involved “multiple instances of unwanted overtures toward an adult student over a two-year period,” the original statement read.
Tuesday’s statement says that two of the new allegations involved adult students at Belmont Abbey College in the 1980s while West was supervising students. Another involved an alleged incident in 1991 with an employee at the House of Mercy in Belmont. One involved an incident in 1993 with an employee at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Charlotte, while Msgr. West was appointed by the diocese to serve as parochial vicar at the parish.
All of the alleged incidents happened while West was a monk serving under the authority of Belmont Abbey, but were not reported to the college or monastery at the time. According to the statement, each incident was described by victims as unwanted kissing and, in one case, touching on the thigh as well. Msgr. West has denied the allegations.
The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte says that the diocese’s independent Lay Review Board investigated all of the allegations this year, after they were received by officials at the college and the diocese. The diocese says that clergy placed on administrative leave are not given a ministerial assignment, and that a final determination of West’s status will be made by the diocese at a later date.
"Although none of the allegations against Msgr. West involved a minor, it is the diocese’s policy to refer allegations of sexual misconduct involving adults to the Lay Review Board. Sexual misconduct includes boundary violations and inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature. Personally, and on behalf of the Diocese of Charlotte and Belmont Abbey College, we extend our sincere apologies to all who have suffered from sexual abuse and misconduct by clergy. Both the diocese and college have zero tolerance for sexual abuse or misconduct of any kind. We continue to strengthen policies and procedures adopted by the U.S. Catholic bishops in 2002 to protect against abuse, and to maintain and strengthen an environment founded on civility and respect. To promote justice and healing for victims, we also encourage anyone who believes he or she has suffered sexual abuse or misconduct to report the allegation to civil authorities,” the statement read.
West was the fourth chancellor of the Charlotte diocese and served for nearly 25 years, which the diocese says is longer than anyone else was in that position. West served six years as associate pastor of St. Gabriel Church in Charlotte.