In August 2020, two Kentucky Catholic dioceses published lists of clergy members accused of child sexual abuse. The Diocese of Covington and the Diocese of Lexington each released a report on sexual abuse in their dioceses and a list of accused clergy members.
These Kentucky dioceses are not the first to make this information public. Many Catholic dioceses nationwide have released similar lists of accused clergy members. Many see this as a step toward transparency in the wake of sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.
Covington Diocese’s Accused Priest List
Over the course of a year, two former agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reviewed reports of abuse in the Covington Diocese. The former agents summarized their findings in a report. The diocese then published the report, along with a list of abusers associated with the diocese.
The Diocese of Covington’s list of sexual abusers contains 90 names, with allegations dating back to the 1950s. Of the 90 names listed, 59 were priests. All but 14 of these priests are now dead. According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, the other 31 individuals named in the list include “pastors, chaplains, deacons, teachers, brothers, nuns and about 20 lay people.”
All accusations listed in the report were substantiated in some way, according to the diocese.
“…the accused admitted to the abuse, a court found them guilty, an investigation found cause to believe that the accusation is objectively true, the accused declined to address the accusation or that the diocese has paid a settlement based on a sworn claim form.”
Covington Diocese Aims To Earn Back Trust
Like many Catholic dioceses across the country, the Covington Diocese is looking to earn back the trust of its congregation.
“I sincerely hope that this report will bring at least some sense of closure to those whose lives have been forever changed by the egregious behavior of those who were pledged to care for God’s little ones.”
The list, released in August, is one way the diocese is taking ownership of its past mistakes.
However, it is not the first attempt at amends. In 2006, the Diocese of Covington paid an $81 million settlement to survivors of clergy abuse.
Lexington Diocese’s Accused Priest List
Two Lexington attorneys compiled a report of sexual abuse in the Lexington Diocese and a list of accused priests. To inform the report, the attorneys analyzed diocesan records and conducted interviews.
In the published list, the Diocese of Lexington named 20 priests accused of sexual abuse against minors. However, of the 20 priests named, only 10 face fully substantiated claims.
Four of the priests face “credible” claims, meaning the abuse most likely occurred. The list includes six priests who served in the Lexington Diocese and also face claims in other dioceses.
All except two of the allegations reviewed occurred before 1988. None of the accused priests identified are currently active in the ministry.
Abuse By Bishop James Kendrick Williams
Bishop James Kendrick Williams was among the 20 accused priests named by the Diocese of Lexington. As the founding bishop of the Lexington Diocese, Williams was a prominent name on the diocese’s list. He is also named on a list of accused clergy members published by the Louisville Diocese.
In 2002, Williams resigned from his post amid sexual abuse allegations. Despite his resignation, Williams denied all claims and never faced criminal charges.
Survivors Seek Transparency And Justice
More than 170 Catholic dioceses and orders have published lists of accused clergy members. This is a new step for the Catholic Church after years of concealing and perpetuating abuse.
For some survivors, these lists may provide comfort and a sense of vindication. But, many survivors are also taking action on their own. Survivors of clergy abuse are coming forward every day to share their experiences and seek legal justice.
Collins, D. (2002, June 12). Kentucky Bishop Resigns. CBS News.
Diocese of Covington. (2020 July) Substantiated Allegations List.
Glynn, E., Horn, D. (2020, July 31). Diocese of Covington: 59 priests sexually abused children since 1950. The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Simani, E., Schwencke, K., Zavadski, K., et al. (2020, January 28). Credibly Accused. ProPublica.
Ward, K. (2020, August 14). Catholic Diocese of Lexington names 20 priests accused of sexually abusing minors. Lexington Herald Leader.
(2018, February 8). Here is the list of Louisville priests accused of sexual abuse. Courier Journal.
(2020, August 1). Diocese of Covington releases report on clergy sexual abuse. The Associated Press.