The pastor of St. Matthew Catholic Church has been placed on leave as the Diocese of Charlotte investigates a decades-old allegation of sexual abuse.
Bishop Peter Jugis announced Monday in a letter to parishioners that the Rev. Patrick Hoare had been placed on administrative leave after someone told the diocese on Sunday they'd been sexually abused by Hoare about 25 years ago in Pennsylvania.
The alleged abuse would have occurred when the accuser was a minor but before Hoare was a Catholic priest. The administrative leave is standard procedure, and Hoare has denied the accusation, Jugis said.
Jugis says the Charlotte Diocese has been in touch with police – as has the person who accused Hoare. The diocese's internal lay review board will also investigate to determine if the accusation is credible, Jugis said.
"We do not yet know the facts and have no indication of any issues at St. Matthew Church," Jugis wrote in his letter.
Hoare has been pastor at St. Matthew since 2017. According to the Charlotte Observer, the parish is one of the largest in the country.
The news comes about two weeks after the Charlotte Diocese announced it had uncovered four new credible accusations of sexual misconduct against its former second-in-command, Monsignor Mauricio West.
The former vicar general resigned his post in March after an initial decades-old allegation surfaced, involving a student at Belmont Abbey College when West was a senior leader at the Gaston County school. The allegations against West all involve adults and unwanted kissing and other physical contact.
Like Hoare, West denies the allegations and is on administrative leave.
The Charlotte Diocese is one of about 30 in the United States that has yet to release a list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual misconduct and abuse. It's publicly committed to doing so by the end of 2019. The diocese covers 46 counties in the western part of North Carolina.
Last week, WFAE released a four-part investigative podcast series, "The List," focusing on the process. The series, hosted and reported by Sarah Delia, examines the impact of the child sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church and the process of creating lists of credibly accused clergy.