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South Carolina Catholic priest on leave after lawsuit regarding manipulated sexual relationship

by Premier Journalist
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Picture of Father Wilbroad Mwape courtesy of St. Anthony of Padua Church and School website

The pastor of a Greenville Catholic church has been placed on administrative leave after parishioners filed a lawsuit accusing the Father of using his authority to have a secret relationship with a parishioner.

"Father Wilbroad Mwape was placed on temporary administrative leave, and the local dean, Father Jay Scott Newman, will be the parish administrator in his absence." a spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston told Greenville News. This decision comes after a local parishioner filed a lawsuit against Mwape and the diocese. The lawsuit claims that "This case stems from the Catholic Church’s continued failure to police their priests." Mwape served as the pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in West Greenville back in 2020. Before that, Father Mwape served at Holy Trinity Church in Orangeburg.

According to the lawsuit in question, Mwape swapped across several different campuses to groom Manuela Jentsch-McKay, who names themselves in the case. These grooming endeavors stepped up after Mwape joined St. Anthony of Padua. He reportedly counseled and taught her about her faith while also using her confession involving marital challenges to prey on her.

"Mwape exploited this knowledge and engaged Plaintiff in increasing forms of sexual behavior. The interaction reached a point where the parishioner spent the night in the rectory, and they engaged in sexual intercourse," the lawsuit states. "It is best to think of the grooming by offenders as a gradual, calculated process."

Mwape also paid for several hotel rooms for illicit uses, claims the lawsuit, as well as the diocese hiding Mwape's conduct.

Mwape has served in the priesthood for 25 years. In 2000, the father pursued the opportunity to become a hospital chaplain, only to return to Zambia, where he was born. Mwape returned to Charleston in 2015.

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