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Diocese of Charleston Plagued by Abuse Allegations


The Diocese of Charleston has been the subject of 2 sexual abuse lawsuits in one week’s time, according to coverage by Live 5 WCSC. In one suit, a man details 2 years of abuse in the mid-1970s, and in another, a woman alleges abuse against her and her sister, as well as a systematic coverup within the church from 1961 to 1966.

St. John’s Catholic Church and Cathedral School

Both lawsuits claim the abuse happened at St. John’s Catholic Church and Cathedral School. One of the lawsuits is attributed to Frederick Hopwood, a priest who was convicted of committing a lewd act upon a child and died several years ago.

The other names a different priest – one who appeared on the diocese’s list of priests with credible allegations of abuse of minors and died in 2010.

Ongoing Abuse

In one suit, the victim claims he was abused on a weekly basis, starting when he was 13 years old, and that the diocese either knew or should have known about the abuse. According to the lawsuit, Hopwood would put his hand down the plaintiff’s pants and molest him, memories the plaintiff repressed until recently.

In the other suit, a woman details 5 years of abuse during her formative years as a child. The perpetrator served as both a priest and teacher, had regular contact with children, and allegedly abused both her and her sister. This lawsuit alleges that the church knew about the priest’s behavior and covered it up. Even after acknowledging potential misconduct, the diocese did not attempt to locate the plaintiff or her sister.

A Systematic Problem

Even the head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston has faced abuse allegations, although they were recently cleared by the Vatican.

Many accused priests, including South Carolina’s bishop, have not seen their day in court, and some have already passed away, meaning they may never face the legal consequences of their actions.

Still, the Diocese of Charleston must answer for allowing an unspoken culture of abuse at their churches and Catholic schools.

These lawsuits are an important aspect of the justice system and help keep children safe from similar fates.

If you have a similar concern, we encourage you to come forward on your own time. When you are ready, our team at Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC is here to help.

We have been handling sexual abuse lawsuits since 1999, and bring 125 years of combined experience to your case. Our compassionate legal team is dedicated to your future, and we will fight for the resources you need to heal.

Tell us what happened at (843) 968-0886 or contact us online to schedule a free, confidential consultation.