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Diocese responds to court filing by former PCHS principal

Says claims against chaplain “not credible”
Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 4:59 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2020 at 3:59 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va (WTAP) - The Wheeling-Charleston Catholic Diocese has responded to a complaint filed by the former principal at Parkersburg Catholic High School.

The legal filing claims his contract was not renewed last spring, after he raised allegations of misconduct by the school’s chaplain and its football coach. The latter’s contract was not renewed after last season.

The full text of the diocese’s statement reads:

“This civil suit arises from an employment dispute with a former principal whose contract was not renewed. The Superintendent of Schools, Mary Ann Deschaine, and the designated pastor of the school, Fr. John Rice, determined it was in the best interest of the school to have new leadership. No issues with Fr. Rice were raised in the discussions with the former principal. The recent news story was prompted by the Court’s granting the Diocese’s motion to compel arbitration of the non-renewal of the contract pursuant to the terms of the contract. The allegations alleged involving Fr. Rice were promptly investigated, reviewed by the Diocesan Sexual Abuse Review Board and determined not to be credible abuse claims.”

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The former principal at Parkersburg Catholic High School is taking the school and the Wheeling-Charleston Catholic Diocese to court, claiming he was dismissed after raising concerns about inappropriate behavior among the school’s chaplain and a former football coach.

John Golebiewski was the school’s principal from 2018 until June 30, 2020.

In a complaint filed May 28, Golebiewski claims he was fired for reporting misconduct involving the school’s chaplain and the dismissal of Parkersburg Catholic’s head football coach.

Golebiewski says he received several reports after taking the job of “inappropriate touching" by school chaplain Father John Rice, which he reported to the diocese.

The complaint says the allegations against Father Rice were corroborated by other students.

He also says he non-renewed the contract of football coach Lance Binegar for failing to report a vaping incident on the football team bus, and for an separate allegation at a previous high school Binegar worked for. The complaint argues the latter allegation, which Binegar has told WTAP is unfounded, came in a private message sent to the Parkersburg Catholic High School’s Facebook page.

Golbiewski charges he was asked to step down last February because he reported the incidents to the diocese. In his complaint, he says he served as principal “without performance issues or disciplinary actions against him".

The complaint names the diocese and the Parkersburg Catholic Schools Foundation as defendants.

Father Rice and the diocese were both contacted by WTAP. They had no comment on the allegations.

Judy Jones, Midwest Director for the survivors network SNAP issued this statement late Friday on the allegations:

“This is a disturbing allegation and we believe it warrants investigation and intervention by West Virginia’s attorney general. If it is true that Catholic officials are willing to remove staff who report abuse, we fear for the safety of children and the vulnerable throughout the Diocese.We hope that this story encourages other witnesses and whistleblowers to come forward to police and prosecutors and share what they know about cases of abuse and cover-up within the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. For communities to be safe, the truth must be told and heard.This is a disturbing allegation and we believe it warrants investigation and intervention by West Virginias attorney general. If it is true that Catholic officials are willing to remove staff who report abuse, we fear for the safety of children and the vulnerable throughout the Diocese.We hope that this story encourages other witnesses and whistleblowers to come forward to police and prosecutors and share what they know about cases of abuse and cover-up within the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. For communities to be safe, the truth must be told and heard.”

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