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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Carie Charlesworth: Forever the Victim

     In 2012, Carie Charlesworth, after having divorced her husband who had abused her for years, lived in Spring Valley, California with her two sons, ages nine and eleven, and her twin seven-year-old girls. Carie's ex-husband, 41-year-old Martin Charlesworth was under a court restraining order that prohibited him from contacting his former wife. (Martin did have child visitation rights.) Carie earned $37,000 a year as a second grade teacher at the Holy Trinity Catholic school in El Cajon, a town not far from San Diego.

     Carie Charlesworth's troubled life took a turn for the worse in January 2013 when Martin, in violation of the restraining order, went to the school's parking lot in an effort to contact his ex-wife. Alarmed school official responded to Martin's presence by locking down the school and calling the police.

     Police officers rushed to the elementary school where they arrested the ex-husband for violating his restraining order. Shortly thereafter, Martin pleaded guilty to the charge of stalking in violation of the domestic court mandate. The judge sentenced Martin to a year in jail minus time served. He was also given four years probabion.

     According to Martin Charlesworth's attorney, he had gone to the school that day to discuss child custody issues with his ex-wife. In speaking to reporters, the attorney said, "He just wants what's best for his children and Carie." In addressing the media, Carie Charlesworth said that based on her ex-husband's past behavior, she was afraid for her safety when he showed up at her place of employment.

     Shortly after the January lockdown, the principal of Holy Trinity placed Carie on paid administrative leave. But in June 2013, an official with the San Diego Catholic diocese informed the 39-year-old teacher that she would not be offered a teaching position for the upcoming school year. In the letter containing this devastating news, the diocese administrator justified the decision by pointing out that according to public records, Martin Charlesworth "has a 20-plus year history of violence, abuse and harassment of people--mostly women--and he has continued the pattern to the present."

     In June 2013, Martin Charlesworth was released from prison.

     Thirty Holy Trinity parents held a rally outside the school in support of the diocese's decision to discontinue Carie Charleworth's employment. These parents felt that her presence in the school, given the nature of her relationship with her violent and unpredictable ex-husband, endangered their children.

     Carie Charlesworth, in discussing her situation with a reporter, said, "I followed all the things they tell domestic abuse victims to do. Now I feel I was the one who got punished. This is why other victims do not come forward."

     Following her dismissal, Carie Charlesworth championed legislation to insure that no other woman would experience what she had been put through by her employer.

     In July 2013, after being out of jail less than a month, Martin Charlesworth was arrested for contacting his wife in violation of the terms of his probation. Before the judge, Charlesworth admitted his violation and in return was allowed to continue on probation.

     On October 1, 2013, police officers arrested Martin Charlesworth again when he broke the terms of his probation and his ex-wife's protection order. This time the judge sentenced him to five years in prison.

     In October 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that protected victims of domestic abuse from losing their jobs. A month earlier, she filed a lawsuit against the diocese contesting her dismissal. (In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that religious organizations can claim ministerial exemptions from employment discrimination laws.)

     As of April 2020, Carie Charlesworth's lawsuit against her former employer remained unresolved or unreported.


  1. This is a shocking story -- thank you for bringing it to public notice. I just discovered your blog and am grateful to you for your excellent attention to detail and high quality writing.

    This decidedly unchristian move on the part of both the diocese and the parents is depressing and demoralizing. Ms. Charlesworth is exactly right in her summation -- this IS why other victims do not come forward.

  2. Hi Jim,

    I came across this blog and this article and I'm extremely sadden how the school district treated Carie. I'm amazed at Carie's courage and how she spearheaded the legislation for Jerry Brown to pass the bill into the law.

    I'm sorry to hear Carie was unable to resolve the lawsuit against her former employer. I am a Criminal Defense & DUI Lawyer, if she wants to look into this case further please go on my website.

  3. In light of the San Bernardino school shooting today. It reminded me of this situation that happened in 2012. As sad as it was for Carie Charlesworth, I bet the parents of the children killed in the school shooting today wish their school was as pro active about the threat as Holy Trinity school was.

  4. Hi Jim,
    I came across your blog. I too am disappointed on how she was treated . I am a former parent of hers. In my opinion she was humiliated and her privacy was invaded. The parents in her class were notified that she would not be returning before they told her. She found out after she got emails from parents after a letter was sent out by school. Situation was handled very poorly by administration and could have been handled with more compassion, sensitivity, privacy and less of a pack mentality. Parents turned on her for being a victim . Make matters worse a group of 20 or so parents took a picture supporting school when some didn't even know why they were getting their picture taken. Some were not happy pic ended on Facebook and school was not prepared for the backlash as a result of that.

    1. Thank you for the added information and your insight into the way this poor woman was treated by her employer and some of students' parents.