Local News

N.C. Priest Removed From Ministry For Lying About Charges Of Taking Indecent Liberties With A Minor

Posted April 12, 2002

— Officials with the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh say Rev. Francis A. Perry, 57, has been placed on administrative leave from his posts as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Burgaw and Transfiguration Parish in Wallace.

Perry, who has served both parishes since July 2000, was involved 41 years ago in an incident with a relative, according to Diocese sources.

Bishop F. Joseph Gossman says that Perry, who was 12 years old at the time, reportedly molested a 4-year-old girl.

Gossman also says that 15 years ago, Perry was arrested and charged with taking indecent liberties with a minor, but that minor did not want to testify on the witness stand, so the charges were dropped.

These incidents were revealed as the result of a letter from one of Perry's family members. The letter was received by the Diocese on March 13 and was sent after reports of sexual abuse in the Catholic church surfaced nationwide.

Both alleged incidents took place prior to Perry becoming a Catholic in 1990 and being ordained a priest in June 1998.

Raleigh Diocese spokesman Frank Morock says Perry admitted the first incident but maintains his innocence in the second.

Gossman says revelations like this are painful for everyone involved.

"He was devastated, and I can assure you that I'm devastated to tell you and to talk to you about it because it really is a very unfortunate thing for him, for the Diocese of Raleigh, for the people that he served, because they're going to be devastated too. They already are," Gossman says.

Officials also learned that Perry lied on his seminarian application when asked whether he had ever been arrested or charged with any crime.

He also lied on a document the Diocese requires all clergy to complete, when he was asked whether he had ever had a civil, criminal or work-related complaint filed against him for child abuse.

Officials spoke with Perry, and information was then presented to the Bishop's Advisory Board, which oversees allegations covered by the diocesan's "Code of Professional Responsibility."

Upon reviewing the case, the Board determined that providing false information on diocesan forms was conduct so grave that it constituted a serious breach of trust.

Gossman took immediate action and removed Perry from pastoral duties on April 9, and he will remain on administrative leave indefinitely.

The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh oversees 54 counties in eastern N.C.

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