Gillespie served in North Carolina’s Diocese of Raleigh from 2002-2008, then moved to the Diocese of Charleston in South Carolina. In January 2021 he moved back to the Raleigh diocese. In August the Jesuits named him as administrator at St. Mary Catholic Church in Laurinburg, North Carolina.
The Charlotte diocese reported the alleged abuse to local police and social services on Sept. 28. The allegation was announced at Masses the weekend of Oct 2-3 and in messages to families of schoolchildren.
The diocese said an independent review of its personnel files and other records found no records of any allegations against the priest.
“The Charlotte diocese has zero tolerance for child sexual abuse, and anyone who has been the victim of abuse is encouraged to seek help and report to law enforcement authorities,” the diocese said in October as reported by the Catholic News Herald.
An officer with the public information office of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said the criminal investigation has now been categorized as “exceptionally cleared – victim chose not to prosecute,” the Charlotte Observer reports.
At the time of the alleged abuse, Gillespie was a priest of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus. In 2020 that province merged with the Jesuits’ USA Northeast Provinces to form the USA East Province, based in New York.
The USA East Province of the Society of Jesus said in a statement that it “takes seriously any allegation of misconduct in ministry.” The province said it is cooperating with law enforcement and the Diocese of Charlotte “to conduct a thorough investigation that will include examination by an outside review board.”
“The Jesuits remain committed to the highest standards in our conduct of ministry. We encourage anyone who suspects abuse by any clergy or employee of the province to contact local civil authorities and/or the province office,” the province continued. “We continue to pray for the victims of sexual abuse and for those working with us to protect those we serve.”
In the late 80s and early 90s Gillespie served as director of research and executive director at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, a research institute on Catholic issues that affiliated with Georgetown University in 1989.
Kevin J. Jones is a senior staff writer with Catholic News Agency. He was a recipient of a 2014 Catholic Relief Services' Egan Journalism Fellowship.