Catholic School Fires Teacher Who Survived Domestic Violence, Calling Her a ‘Liability’

In a report from NBC News, a San Diego teacher and domestic violence survivor has been fired from her job — because her abusive ex-husband refused to abide by a restraining order filed against him.

Carie Charlesworth taught at Holy Trinity School for 14 years before she was placed on administrative leave, following a domestic violence incident in which her ex-husband showed up at the school parking lot. As a result, the school was placed on lockdown and Charlesworth and her children were ordered to leave. Three months later, she was fired on the grounds that the school district was concerned about her ex-husband’s “threatening and menacing” behavior, adding that they could “not allow” her to teach at Holy Trinity or anywhere else in the area.

“They’ve taken away my ability to care for my kids,” Charlesworth said to NBC News. “It’s not like I can go out and find a teaching job anywhere.”

While it’s understandable that a school would want to protect its students and staff, depriving a domestic violence survivor her livelihood is not the right solution, according to advocates. “Firing all these women is not the answer,” YWCA San Diego CEO Heather Finlay told NBC.

Charlesworth’s attorney expects to run into some difficulties with the case due to something called “Ministerial Exception.” As part of her duties as a teacher at a Catholic school, Charlesworth taught religion, resulting in a legal precedence that says she can be fired without cause — just like a priest or pastor.

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  1. Bob Cull

    June 13, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    So now we have another one of those cases where you can get away with doing the wrong thing just because you “have the right” to do it. Unbelievable! How can these people call themselves Christian? The “Christian” thing to do would be to support her in any and every way possible. What they have done is decidedly un-Christian! Her husband breaks the law and she gets punished for it! What a humanitarian gesture! This is one reason I have no use for any organized religion!

  2. Laura Mainwaring

    June 14, 2013 at 2:48 am

    This is why I no longer will go to a Catholic church, they are hypocrites

  3. Terri Hemker

    June 14, 2013 at 3:14 am

    At times like these, though I am a Liberal Progressive one, I am ashamed to make the sign of the cross in public because people will know I’m a Catholic.

  4. eric lewis

    June 14, 2013 at 3:20 am

    So the real fact that she has a very abusive husband…. ABUSIVE … showing up where she works.. a school.. with children… doesn’t matter?
    What if the husband takes his abuse one step farther? School! Children!!
    Even if the school stood with her with full support, its a serious risk to the kids and the parents.
    Just imagine a worse case scenario. Imagine the outcry from the community if something bad happened. They all would have wanted her gone then.
    Its not right at all. But blame goes to judicial system. Not the school.

  5. Cyndi

    June 14, 2013 at 3:55 am

    I wonder if they make it a part of all teachers duties to teach religion so they can all be fired for whatever reason they see fit.

  6. Gabriel Leal

    June 14, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Relax. Organized religion is not at fault here, you scruffy lunatic.

  7. Bob Cull

    June 14, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    Gee, I must have missed something! All these years I have been thinking that the Catholic church was not only an organized religion but one of the largest in the world! Wow, have I been out of touch!
    By the way, so “Christian” of you to make a personal attack on me because you don’t approve of the way that I choose to wear my hair and because I choose to wear a beard! My experience has always been that those who resort to ad hominem attacks right out of the box are ignoramuses who have no facts or valid arguments for their postion.

  8. Lisa Kazmier

    June 15, 2013 at 3:04 am

    Coulda fooled me, Gabriel.

  9. Sarah Ray

    June 15, 2013 at 3:11 am

    really? calling names and HE’s the lunatic?

  10. Gneila Shallott

    June 15, 2013 at 3:12 am

    Bob … had she been a man – who molested a child – THAT would mean they’d protect and support.

    her ‘liability’ is that she’s female – and not in possession of a penis of her own.

  11. Valerie Scott

    June 15, 2013 at 3:31 am

    Wouldn’t it be prudent to arrest the ass? I understand wanting to keep the school and children safe but firing this brave woman is not the answer. He is the one deserving of punishment. Also @ Gabriel Leal: Commenter Bob Cull is not a lunatic. Why must people judge others by how they look. I’ve read many of his comments and he strikes me as a very intelligent man. There’s no need to hurl insults.

  12. t

    June 15, 2013 at 3:32 am

    The responsibility should fall on law enforcement since he is known to be breaking a restraining order. He should be locked up and no longer a concern.

  13. Josh

    June 15, 2013 at 3:32 am

    Why is anyone surprised? Didn’t we hear about a catholic priest forgiving the accusers of other catholic priests…the accusers the balks of this church to make the victims bear the blame.

  14. Aaron

    June 15, 2013 at 3:52 am

    I agree with the decision of the School. If my kid went to school there and this was going on, I would expect the teacher be removed as well. Not her fault, but nor fair to put kids in danger. She can teach anywhere. Most women who deal with abuse as this endure it for long periods of time before they finally have enough. I am a former Catholic and have issues with the church. This would not be one.

  15. marty

    June 15, 2013 at 3:55 am

    lol…really gabriel. hahaha…still laughing. “scruffy lunatic?” hmmmmm…enjoy communion on sunday. hehehe

  16. Worlds Greatestsinner

    June 15, 2013 at 4:22 am

    well now, that was extremely Christian of them.

  17. Denise

    June 15, 2013 at 4:22 am

    I work in a Catholic school in northern calif. an I am appalled that she would be treated this way. She is a victim not only from her ex but from the the Archdiocese. Shame on you! Come to northern Calif. we could always use another great teacher!

  18. Nic Valle

    June 15, 2013 at 4:28 am

    No organized religion is at fault. And you people call yourself Christian . Pathetic.

  19. Sharon

    June 15, 2013 at 5:40 am

    I was thinking the same thing. Why punish her. Anyone heard about calling the PO PO? Humph

  20. Ross Duguid

    June 15, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Eh….yes it is you bible thumping zealot.

  21. The F Word

    June 15, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new “compassionate” Christians.

  22. Bill Gannon

    June 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Just when you think the Catholic Church can’t get any worse-IT DOES!

  23. Marge

    June 15, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    All that in the name of christian love and in the footsteps of cheesus crust, right? What a bunch of heartless, brainless, fanatical creeps.

  24. Bob Cull

    June 16, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Aaron, did you actually read what you said before hitting that post button? She can teach anywhere? Sure until another parent with your attitude says, “hey her ex is an a$$hole who ignores restraining orders, get her away from my kid.”
    This is not how decent people handle a situation like this, we should not allow the innocent victim of a violent POS to be punished for his actions. You are condoning reprehensible behavior by a church which is famous for it’s reprehensible behavior.

  25. Casey Kane

    June 16, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    weren’t Jesus and his disciples dismissed as scruffy lunatics?…

  26. Malinda Willis

    June 17, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Once again the Catholic Church enables the perpetrator instead of protecting the victim. Instead of booting her and her kids, why not call the cops as soon as he pulled into the parking lot? Hells Bells a local women was shot to death for simply pulling into a Catholic School parking lot and taking a nap.

  27. happymar

    August 1, 2013 at 7:04 am

  28. Roy

    September 20, 2013 at 12:33 am

    Once again, the wonderful (sic) Roman Catholic Church gets away with hurting people without any cause. Gee what a surprise. Instead of having the police arrest the abusive ex husband the fire the victim. Sound familiar?

  29. Christine Dee

    October 18, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Well said Bob, victim blaming appears endemic in our society at present. It’s lazy and reprehensible. Removal of the threat, ie the perpetrator, was the way forward in this case not just yet another abuse of the woman and her family

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