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Attorney: Charlotte Diocese List Not Complete


On Monday, the Charlotte Diocese release a list of 14 clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing children. It also released names of people who worked in the Charlotte Diocese but were credibly accused elsewhere, and names of clergy accused of sexual abuse when the region was covered by the Raleigh Diocese.

But, the list is not complete in the view of Seth Langson. He’s a Charlotte attorney who has represented victims in lawsuits against the Charlotte Diocese. Some of his clients sued priests who were on the list released yesterday. He joins us now.

Lisa Worf: Why do you believe the list is incomplete?

Seth Langson: Well, I know from my own personal investigation of one or more names that should be on that list that aren't on the list. That has nothing to do with what documents, confidential documents, are seen by the Diocese. I just know there was at least one other person that wasn't on the list.

Worf: And so how many names are we talking about, in your estimation?

Langson: I'm not certain. Terry McKiernan of Bishop Accountability, I think was quoted yesterday saying that even six or nine names that should have been on the list.

Worf: Have you spoken to any clients about the list that was released? And if so, what what do they have to say about it?

Langson: I haven't spoken to them since the list was released. I've spoken to them before about the issue. And your recent podcast (The List).

Worf: And what were their feelings about the release of this and their anticipation?

Langson: Oh, it was all like, "What took them so long? We're glad they're doing it." And, "I'll believe it when I see it." That sort of attitude.

Worf: Charlotte's Diocese now joins 146 others who have already released the list over the past several years, then.

Langson: They didn't take the longest time to release information, although the quality of the information they released is definitely in question, because you don't know who did the investigation, there was nothing about the investigation. I noticed when they interviewed Chancellor (Father Patrick Winslow) yesterday, he was very careful to say in answer to the question about, "Have you seen everything? Are you confident you've seen everything?" And he gave a very nuanced answer. He said, "I'm confident I've seen everything that we have." Well, the definition of what they have and what, let's say the lawyers have, might be different. It seemed to me that he was definitely hedging on his answer.

Worf: Were you contacted by anyone investigating clergy on behalf of the Diocese?

Langson: No. (laughing)

Worf: And why do you think that was?

Langson: What would I have to say to them? They haven't listened to me since I first got involved in the first cases against the Diocese back in 2008. So, no. They're very arrogant and they do what they want to do when they want to do it.

Worf: Now, the Diocese has set up a hotline for victims to call but you're urging people not to do so. How come?

Langson: Because they're not the ones that should be investigating. The investigation should be by the police, regarding the laws and the SAFE Child Act. That's who needs to investigate. It's not like, you know, if I get charged with a crime, I then pick my family as the jurors and the judge. That doesn't happen. Now the Diocese hasn't been charged with the crime. But, it's the same idea.

Worf: And that SAFE Child Act extends the time that survivors, as adults, can lodge lawsuits?

Langson: Yeah. One, it creates a window, which is a two-year period from now, basically when the bill got passed, in which anyone who is sexually abused as a child can bring a case -- regardless of how old it was without worrying about the statute of limitations. So it's something that survivors have wanted in every state has done it. It's always been in front of litigation. There have been claims made as a result of it in any state that has created such an act.

Worf: Any other reaction to the list that's important that we know?

Langson: Well, I've long had the question: OK, we so we have this big list. Why isn't anyone making any connections of looking into the priests, even if they were deceased? See who was the Bishop or Chancellor back at the time? Because I think the bishops and chancellors are the ones responsible for those decisions at the highest levels. That's the way the priests get transferred when they know priests have been abusers. And I would encourage the district attorney's office to start an investigation like we've done many other states and many other cities.

I don't know if they committed crimes. That's not for me to say. But I think it's worth investigation.

Worf: That's Charlotte attorney Seth Langson, who's represented victims in lawsuits against the Charlotte Diocese. Mr. Langson, thank you.

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.