Fr. Francis Gillespie
Diocese of Charlotte/Jesuits
1994-2001: Our Lady of the Assumption Church and School (Charlotte, NC)
2002-2008: Diocese of Raleigh (Raleigh, NC)
2008-2021: Diocese of Charleston (Charleston, SC)
2021: St. Mary’s (Laurinburg, NC)
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Francis Gillespie
In October 2021, the Diocese of Charlotte reported Fr. Francis Gillespie, a religious order Jesuit priest, to the police after he allegedly abused a minor at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish more than 20 years ago. Accordingly, the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus—which supervises Fr. Gillespie—removed the priest while they investigated the allegation.
A month later, the Diocese of Charlotte and Fr. Gillespie was named in a lawsuit accusing the priest of rape and abuse and the diocese with negligence. According to the lawsuit, the victim was an eight-year-old student at Our Lady of the Assumption Elementary School when he met the priest. Given Fr. Gillespie’s role as a parish priest, the lawsuit claims he had access to schools in the parish whenever he wanted.
Initially, Fr. Gillespie was “friendly” and let the victim assist him at Mass despite not being an altar boy, the complaint reads. However, after gaining the victim’s trust, the complaint further alleges Fr. Gillespie sexually assaulted the boy “regularly” starting in 1996 and continuing through 2000.
As the frequency of the abuse increased, so did the intensity of the abuse, sources say. In a matter of weeks, the victim claims Fr. Gillespie raped him. The victim also said Fr. Gillespie warned him not to tell anyone, which is why he kept the abuse secret.
According to sources, Fr. Gillespie was pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Church and School from 1994 to 2001. The incident allegedly occurred in the mid-to-late 1990s while the victim was a student, an article reads.
Ordained in 1972, sources say Fr. Francis Gillespie has pastored for five years in the Savannah Diocese, seven years in the Charlotte Diocese, six years in the Raleigh Diocese, and three years in the Charleston Diocese. Additionally, reports say Fr. Gillespie taught Jesuit grade school for two years in Osorno, Chile, where he also coached basketball for the high school.
At the time of his removal, Fr. Gillespie was serving in Laurinburg, North Carolina. The USA East Province of the Society of Jesus said it placed Fr. Gillespie “under supervised care” after removing him from public ministry.
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