A North Carolina pastor who spoke out against clergy sexual abuse while overseeing a large Catholic parish has been accused of molesting a minor 25 years ago.
Father Patrick T. Hoare of St. Matthew in Charlotte was placed on administrative leave on Monday following news of the alleged abuse in Pennsylvania before Hoare entered the priesthood, Bishop Peter Jugis said in a statement.
“The alleged victim, now an adult, reported his allegation to the diocese yesterday and said he has been in touch with police and social services. Father Hoare has denied the allegation,” Jugis said.
“Please understand administrative leave is standard procedure under our policy and does not imply guilt. We do not yet know the facts and have no indication of any issues at St. Matthew Church,” he added.
Hoare’s brother, David Hoare, identified the accuser to WCCB Charlotte as a family member who suffers from “extreme mental disabilities.” He said the allegations against his brother are “totally false and inaccurate.”
Hoare, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, had spoken out about past sexual abuse allegations committed by fellow priests, calling the crimes “inexcusable” and “evil” in a letter to his congregation last year.
The letter, which appeared to have been removed from the church’s website on Tuesday, was issued in response to a grand jury in Pennsylvania releasing the names of more than 300 so-called “predator priests” accused of sexual abuse.
“While the Grand Jury report itself acknowledges that much good work has already been done in the last 20 years in responding to reports of abuse, much more is still necessary at the highest levels of the Church to root out any element of evil from among us,” Hoare said.
St. Matthew’s has been characterized as the largest Catholic parish in the U.S., with more than 37,500 parishioners. Its membership, according to the church’s website, includes more than 10,500 families.
Hoare took over the role as pastor in 2017, following the retirement of Monsignor John J. McSweeney, according to the Catholic News Herald.
Hoare was ordained at the Charlotte church in 2007 and prior to that served as a deacon there, according to a statement published by McSweeney at the time of his announced retirement.