CHARLESTON, SC (FOX Carolina) A press release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston says their Bishop is fully cooperating after a lawsuit was filed against him - alleging he molested a minor decades ago.
The lawsuit, filed in Nassua County, New York, argues the Most Reverend Robert E. Gugliemone sexually abused a minor in 1978 or 1979 when he was serving as a priest in Amityville, New York.
The allegations are being investigated by law enforcement, and the Vatican has been informed, according to the news release.
The release from the Diocese says Bishop Gugliemone is fully cooperating with the investigation, and denies the allegations.
“I understand that this individual filed a lawsuit against me today. The allegations are false. I engaged in no wrongdoing," said Bishop Gugliemone. "I look forward to being vindicated in Court, and will refer specific questions about my defense to my attorneys, Bruce Barket and Aida Leisenring at Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco, LLP.”
The Bishop's attorneys also released a statement on the matter:
These allegations are false, provably false. As the plaintiff admitted to a family member, he made this up in order to get money from the Church (“it’s worth a try,” the plaintiff said). Bishop Guglielmone is a good man who has devoted his entire career to the church, education, and community service. Although he was under no obligation to do so, he submitted himself to a polygraph examination, which he passed. We will not allow these false allegations to tarnish the outstanding and selfless work he has done throughout his life. We will see the plaintiff in Court and the Bishop will be cleared.
-- Bruce Barket & Aida Leisenring, Attorneys for Bishop Guglielmone
Bishop Guglielmone sent a letter to his congregation on Sunday, August 18, indicating he would remain in his position while cutting back on public presence:
As you know, a lawsuit has been filed against me alleging that I have committed a grievous act. The abuse of a child is despicable. This false accusation against me has no merit whatsoever; I have vigorously defended myself and will continue to do so. As this case moves forward, I remain your Bishop. I will, however, temporarily reduce my public presence, as I do not want to distract the focus from the important ministries of the Church in South Carolina – including creating safe environments for our children. I understand that these are challenging times for you, the faithful, and the coming days may be even more so. Please know that I am grateful for your prayers. St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us.