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Former Parkersburg Catholic High School principal sues Diocese

PARKERSBURG — In a lawsuit filed in Wood County, the former principal at Parkersburg Catholic High School is claiming he was wrongfully terminated for reporting complaints against a priest to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and for firing the football coach.

John Golebiewski, represented by The Employment Law Center in Parkersburg, is suing the Diocese for wrongful termination earlier this year. The lawsuit claims he was terminated after reporting complaints of inappropriate contact to the Diocese involving Parkersburg Catholic High School Chaplain Father John Rice and for firing head football coach Lance Binegar.

“(Golebiewski’s) attempts to report wrongdoing by his subordinates to defendant Diocese was the substantial and motivating factor for defendant’s decision to place (Golebiewski) on leave and ultimately defendant’s refusal to renew his contract,” the lawsuit said. “Defendants worked together to place plaintiff on leave and to breach plaintiff’s employment contract in retaliation for his proper reports of wrongdoing toward the children under his care.

“Defendants actions were intended to and did have the effect of shielding credible allegations of child abuse from proper investigation and resolution…” the lawsuit said.

Anthony Brunicardi, who represents Golebiewski, said the lawsuit contains the complaints that were referred to the Diocese.

Tim Bishop, a spokesman for the Diocese, said the Diocese has no comment. Binegar and Rice also had no comment.

The suit named as defendants the Diocese and the Parkersburg Catholic Foundation, which was dismissed from the lawsuit on Sept. 14 by Judge J.D. Beane. The judge ruled in part that the foundation was made a party to the suit by mistake, according to court documents.

Golebiewski is requesting damages for wage loss, as well as damages for emotional distress and embarrassment, punitive damages, reinstatement, injunctive relief and such other relief as may be appropriate upon the premises, the lawsuit said.

Golebiewski was principal of Parkersburg Catholic from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, the lawsuit said. He later was president-principal of Parkersburg Catholic Schools from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, a tenure without performance issues or disciplinary actions against him, the lawsuit said.

Golebiewski filed three reports with the Diocese of alleged misconduct regarding inappropriate touching by Rice starting in October 2018 and the last occurring in September 2019, the lawsuit said. Included in one of the reports was an accusation Rice would ask inappropriate questions during confession and “his unwillingness to remove this ‘uncomfortable’ questioning from this interaction,” the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit Golebiewski’s zero-tolerance policy meant the decision not to renew Binegar’s contract was due to two separate allegations, the failure to report vaping devices on a team bus on Sept. 13, 2019, and Facebook messages concerning his previous employment.

However, only the vaping allegation was cited in Golebiewski’s Nov. 26, 2019, non-renewal letter, which was provided to the newspaper by Binegar.

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