Priest with Upstate ties accused of sexual misconduct - FOX Carolina 21

Priest with Upstate ties accused of sexual misconduct

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Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church is located on Mathis Road in Greenwood. (Mar. 10, 2013/FOX Carolina) Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church is located on Mathis Road in Greenwood. (Mar. 10, 2013/FOX Carolina)

A Catholic priest with ties to the Upstate is on administrative leave following an accusation of sexual misconduct with a minor, according to the state's diocese.

Father Hayden Vaverek had "his priestly faculties withdrawn" after someone reported the misconduct, according to the Catholic Diocese of Charleston.

The diocese reported that the misconduct occurred while Vaverek was pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Greenwood, but "no parishioners of that parish were involved in the reported allegation."

Diocesan officials said the sexual misconduct involved a minor and happened more than 15 years ago.

According to the diocese, Vaverek also served at several parishes and schools across the state, including Simpsonville, Anderson, Greenville and Greenwood along with parishes in McCormick, Myrtle Beach, Garden City, Moncks Corner, Bonneau and Hilton Head Island.

FOX Carolina obtained a letter sent from St. Joseph's Catholic School in Greenville to parents regarding the accusation. The letter stated Vaverek had previously served on the school's Board of Trustees.

In 2011, he began working for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association based in New York City.

The Diocese of Charleston is asking if anyone has any information regarding sexual misconduct, or is a victim themselves, that they contact local law enforcement. In addition, the diocese said they are offering counseling to those affected.

The incident has gotten the attention of the national organization Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. Judy Jones is a regional assistant director of the group and told FOX Carolina they want the diocese to release more information about the accusation.

"We're really concerned because these church officials are being very quiet about this, they aren't saying exactly what happened here," said Jones. "The bishop needs to go to each of those parishes and plead with anybody that has any knowledge or has been harmed by this priest to contact law enforcement."

The diocese said they have notified law enforcement and are cooperating with them.

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