Local News

Raleigh's Diocese Accused of Sex Abuse Cover-Up

Posted March 15, 2007 7:46 p.m. EDT

— Protesters gathered outside The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh Thursday, accusing its leaders of covering up sex abuse cases involving priests.

The group of about a half-dozen people -- some who said they were victims and others who said they were parents of children abused by Catholic priests outside the Raleigh diocese -- also said leaders, including Bishop Michael Burbidge, refused to meet with them.

"My son has been re-victimized again and again and again," said Shayne Prorock. "And yes, we did try to make an appointment with the bishop, and we needed a counselor there."

"He's not responding," protester Marigrace Labella said. "He refuses to meet because a counselor wants to be present?"

Diocese spokesman Frank Morock, however, denied those claims saying the diocese "has always been very open to any victim who has stepped forward."

"We have a very aggressive policy," he said. "We're not keeping anything quiet. Any victim can come forward."

According to the diocese, 35 people have made credible allegations against 15 of its priests, most of whom are deceased, since 1950. The diocese has paid $1.9 million to settle those cases.

Now, there is a case of a Cardinal Gibbons High School teacher who is accused of inappropriately touching and kissing a female student. Cardinal Gibbons is a school of the diocese.

Protesters said the diocese should also be held responsible for that alleged crime. "That's their school," one said.

"When officials at the school hard the allegation, they did exactly what they needed to do -- exactly what our policy states," Morock said.

According to the diocese, Burbidge and the protestors are coordinating their schedules and plan to meet soon.