UPDATED 4:10 P.M.
The second-highest-ranking official in the Charlotte Catholic Diocese has resigned amid what diocese officials are calling a credible allegation of sexual misconduct. A statement published in the Catholic News Herald Thursday says Monsignor Mauricio West stepped down as vicar general and chancellor on Monday.
According to the statement, issued by Bishop Peter Jugis, the sexual misconduct allegations against West stem from the mid-1980s when West was the vice president for student affairs at Belmont Abbey College, in Gaston County.
Diocese or school officials would not provide details surrounding the allegations. The statement only says that an adult student accused West of multiple instances of unwanted advances over a two-year period. According to Bishop Jugis’ statement, in February, that person met in person with officials of the diocese’s Lay Review Board during their investigation. Although West has denied the allegations, board members determined that the charges were credible.
As vicar general and chancellor, West oversaw the diocese priests and was the chief business officer, overseeing church property sales and other financial dealings. The bishop’s statement says West is on a leave of absence from his ministerial duties as he goes through a period of counseling and assessment. In a statement, Belmont Abbey officials said that they cooperated fully with the diocese during the investigation and apologized to the victim.
"We are deeply sorry for the victim and have apologized personally to the individual," the statement said. "While it is disheartening that a former student and our entire community have been hurt by this allegation, we are committed to honesty and transparency in handling all allegations of misconduct."
Bishop Jugis apologized to the victim in his statement as well and added, "The Diocese of Charlotte is committed to taking all necessary steps to root out all inappropriate behavior and to being open and transparent about our handling of all allegations of such conduct."