Charlotte Diocese files response in civil lawsuit involving Farwell abuse allegation
CHARLOTTE — The Diocese of Charlotte is seeking to have a court dismiss a civil lawsuit connected to a sexual abuse case involving Father Richard B. Farwell.
Father Farwell was removed from public ministry by the diocese in 2002 and was subsequently fired from a Florida-based Catholic charity after an investigation was launched following an abuse claim made against him.
Father Farwell, 63, pleaded no contest in 2004 to one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He now lives in Pompano Beach, Fla.
The civil lawsuit was filed in Mecklenburg County Superior Court in July by attorneys representing a man who is one of two alleged victims who came forward in 2002, contending he had been sexually abused by Father Farwell as a teenager in the mid-1980s, and upon whose allegations an indictment was sought. The civil lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages of at least $10,000.
The civil lawsuit claims that the Charlotte diocese committed fraud and negligence by concealing knowledge of Father Farwell's allegedly abusive behavior.
The diocese filed what is known as a responsive pleading on Sept. 30, asking that the case be dismissed based on the North Carolina statute of limitations.
When the abuse claim was made in 2002, the diocese reported the allegation to the N.C. Department of Social Services in Rowan County, where the abuse allegedly occurred. The diocese also removed Father Farwell from ministry, meaning he could not celebrate the Mass or sacraments publicly, or wear priestly garb – in accordance with the U.S. bishops' nationwide policy on responding to cases of alleged sexual misconduct called the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The suspension remains in effect.
Father Farwell was indicted in Rowan County Superior Court on two felony counts of taking indecent liberties with a child in 2003. In 2004, one felony charge was dismissed and the other was reduced to a misdemeanor in return for Father Farwell pleading no contest to contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Father Farwell denied any wrongdoing when he accepted the plea. He was sentenced to supervised probation for 18 months and fined $1,000 plus court costs, according to a copy of the plea agreement filed with Rowan County Superior Court.
Documents from the 2004 Rowan County criminal proceeding have been attached as exhibits to the diocese's motion to dismiss.
Father Farwell was ordained in 1981. In addition to Sacred Heart Church, he served at St. Ann Church in Charlotte, St. Aloysius Church in Hickory, St. Dorothy Church in Lincolnton and Queen of the Apostles Church in Belmont; and in the Diocese of Raleigh, he served at St. Joseph Church in Burgaw and Transfiguration Mission in Wallace.
--David Hains and Patricia Guilfoyle
Pope calls for 'revolutionaries' to change hearts by sharing God's loveVATICAN CITY — Christians are called to be revolutionaries, changing the world one heart at a time, Pope Francis said. "A Christian who is not a revolutionary today isn't a Christian," the pope said June 17 during a conference that quickly...
Vatican diplomat, hotel director named to body overseeing Vatican bankVATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has approved the appointment of the new interim prelate of the Vatican bank, Msgr. Battista Mario Ricca, a Vatican diplomat who has been director of the guesthouse where the pope is living. Msgr. Ricca was chosen...
Pope: Don't pretend to be sinless; preaching Gospel demands humilityVATICAN CITY — When boasting of having Jesus Christ as one's savior, people shouldn't pretend they aren't guilty of sin, Pope Francis said in a morning homily. The sincere and humble admission of one's weaknesses, of having "a sliver of Satan...
Pope says structures for collaboration, collegiality need strengthenedVATICAN CITY — A meeting with Pope Francis designed as reflection on the last Synod of Bishops turned into a group reflection on strengthening the synod itself and the way the world's bishops assist the pope. Meeting June 13 with members...
Pope confirms he's finishing encyclical begun by Pope BenedictVATICAN CITY — Pope Francis told members of the ordinary council of the Synod of Bishops that he was preparing to publish an encyclical on faith written "with four hands" -- his own and those of Pope Benedict XVI. While a formal speech was...
Pope decries 'real slavery' of children forced to workVATICAN CITY — Many of the hundreds of millions of child laborers around the world work under conditions of "real slavery," Pope Francis said. Marking the World Day Against Child Labor June 12, the pope told people at his weekly general audience...
Wealth obscures power of God's word, free gift of salvation, pope saysVATICAN CITY — A church that is rich and lacking in praise for the Lord is an old, lifeless church that neglects the true treasure of God's free gift of grace and salvation, Pope Francis said in a morning homily. "Proclaiming the Gospel must...
Comfort of Holy Spirit, world don't mix, pope statesVATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said Christians cannot receive consolation from both the Holy Spirit and the spirit of the world if they want to be saved. "You cannot serve two masters, you either serve the Lord or you serve the spirit of this...
Religious freedom gets more lip service than guarantees, pope saysVATICAN CITY — Religious freedom is talked about more than it is protected, Pope Francis said. "The serious violations inflicted on this basic right are causes of serious concern," and the world's nations must act together to uphold "the...
Pope dwells on God's wordless loveVATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said God does not love us with words but through closeness and tenderness during his morning Mass on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. "He does not love us with words, he comes close and gives us his love...