CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) – A nurse who moved into the rectory of her Catholic Church to care for a priest stricken with cancer claims the priest’s replacement defamed her by accusing her of stealing from the church, which still owes her $3,000 for her work as Director of Religious Education.
Delia McGrath claims she moved into the rectory of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in January 2009 after Fr. William Leonard was diagnosed with cancer of the tonsils.
McGrath says she cut back on her paid work as a nurse to help her friend and pastor through his illness.
Fr. Leonard’s worsening condition forced her to take on many of his administrative duties, to “keep costs at a minimum,” according to her complaint in the Court of Common Pleas.
McGrath says she took over doing the parish payroll, preparing weekly bulletins, deciding on weekly music and prayers to be said at Mass, and responding to correspondence of all kinds.
Ultimately, Fr. Leonard’s condition forced him to take medical leave of absence, and Fr. Riley became St. Thomas’ new administrator.
McGrath says Riley was at the parish for less than a week when he accused her of absconding with parish funds.
At issue were expenditures for an apartment, which McGrath says had been rented by Fr. Leonard for his use during his leave, and of which Riley had been told at least twice by the ailing pastor.
But Riley persisted in his accusations against McGrath, taking “advantage of the trust, confidence and influence of his new position by engaging in defamatory conduct against the plaintiff,” according to the complaint.
McGrath claims Riley compounded his by defamation by telling other parishioners that she is “evil.”
McGrath seeks punitive damages for defamation, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, vicarious liability, and breach of contract.
She is represented by James W. Logan Jr. of Logan, Jolly & Smith in Anderson, S.C.