SAN DIEGO - A veteran teacher at a Catholic school who lost her job because school officials were worried that her ex-husband posed a danger to students and teachers has sued the Catholic diocese.
The lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed Tuesday in San Diego County Superior Court on behalf of Carie Charlesworth, 40, who was released from Holy Trinity School in El Cajon after 14 years as a teacher in the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego.
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Kenneth Hoyt, alleges that the diocese violated a Catholic principle taught in Cathechism that “the ends do not justify the means.”
Hoyt said he attempted unsuccessfully to discuss “the great injustice” with diocese officials.
“It is with utmost sorrow, that the diocese of San Diego and its bishop, allow no other option than to file this lawsuit,” Hoyt said.
As a religious school, Holy Trinity is exempt from certain laws involving employment. But the lawsuit alleges that although Charlesworth was required by her contract to follow Catholic teachings, the diocese, in not renewing her contract, violated those same teachings.
In January, Charlesworth’s ex-husband, who had a temporary restraining order against him, came to the school to see his ex-wife, causing officials to put the school on lockdown.
Days later she was put on paid leave from her job as a second-grade teacher and then informed that she would not be rehired for her $37,000-a-year job for the next school year .
In June, when the case became public, Rodrigo Valdiva, chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, issued a statement saying that the diocese “has acted responsibly in addressing the Holy Trinity School personnel matter with concern for the safety and well-being of both Carie Charlesworth and the children at the school.”
Charlesworth’s ex-husband was sentenced to a year in jail for domestic abuse and stalking, not for the school incident, but in other incidents involving his ex-wife. He was released in June.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Charlesworth and her four minor children. The children were removed from the school by the diocese when their mother was put on leave.
The diocese, Hoyt said, “failed to follow the Catholic teaching; that with the help of God, the infliction of harm to the innocent is always avoided...”
Charlesworth’s contract with the diocese required the diocese to “follow its great teachings and moral principles,” Hoyt said.