CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A North Carolina Catholic diocese official stepped down after what the diocese called a "credible allegation" of sexual misconduct, officials said Thursday.
The Diocese of Charlotte announced in a news release that Monsignor Mauricio West stepped down effective March 25. The allegation involves multiple instances of unwanted overtures during the mid-1980s toward an adult student at Belmont Abbey College, where West was vice president of student affairs, the diocese said.
West has denied the allegation. He had served as the diocese's vicar general and chancellor.
Bishop Peter J. Jugis said that in February, the individual met with the lay review board to discuss the allegation.
"While the alleged behavior did not constitute sexual abuse and did not involve a minor, it is the strict policy of the Diocese of Charlotte to refer all allegations by known accusers of potential sexual misconduct to the Lay Review Board for investigation," Jugis said. "Misconduct includes boundary violations and improper behavior by clergy, lay people and church volunteers involving children and adults."
Jugis said West will remain a priest but be on a leave of absence during a period of counseling and assessment.
Belmont Abbey College Chancellor Placid Solari issued a statement saying school officials have apologized to the victim personally.
"Although we cannot undo the past, we are dedicated to preventing such inappropriate behavior in the future," Solari said.