Kentucky Bishop Resigns in Wake of
Sex Abuse Scandal
By The Associated Press, June 11, 2002
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Roman Catholic Bishop J. Kendrick Williams
of Lexington, Ky., resigned Tuesday amid accusations of sexual abuse,
becoming the third U.S. bishop brought down in the scandal rocking
Williams, 65, had been accused of abuse by three plaintiffs. He
denied the charges and went on leave voluntarily under a diocesan
policy that requires clergy to be removed from public duties while
an accusation is pending.
The Vatican said Pope John Paul II accepted Williams' resignation,
submitted under church law for ``illness or some other grave reason.''
The announcement comes two days before American bishops meet in
Dallas to decide on proposals to deal with sexual abuse in the clergy.
At least 225 of the nation's more than 46,000 Roman Catholic priests
have either been dismissed from their duties or resigned since the
scandal began in January.
In March, the Rev. Anthony O'Connell resigned as bishop of Palm
Beach, Fla., after admitting he abused a seminary student in Missouri
more than 25 years ago. And last month, Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert
Weakland's resignation was accepted by the Vatican a day after he
acknowledged paying a man $450,000 to settle a sexual misconduct
allegation against him.
The Vatican cited Weakland's age as an explanation. He had submitted
a resignation request in April when he reached the mandatory retirement
age of 75 and asked the Vatican to expedite it after the settlement
Bishops in Poland and Ireland were also forced to resign this year
in sex abuse scandals.
The scandal began enveloping the church after revelations that
the Archdiocese of Boston had shuttled now-defrocked priest John
Geoghan from parish to parish despite repeated allegations that
he was a pedophile.
A panel of U.S. bishops has called for a zero-tolerance policy
toward sex abuse and defrocking of any priest with more than one
such incident in his past. The proposal will be taken up at the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' meeting that begins
Ordained a bishop on June 19, 1984, Williams was named the founding
bishop of the newly-established Diocese of Lexington. He was installed
on March 2, 1988.
Plaintiff James W. Bennett alleged Williams abused him in 1981
while Bennett was a 12-year-old altar boy. David Hall alleged Williams
fondled him when Hall was an 18-year-old high school senior. The
third plaintiff, Thomas C. Probus, accused Williams of molesting
him in 1981.
In other developments in the abuse scandal:
-- In New York, Bishop Thomas Daily of Brooklyn was asked in a
closed-door deposition about how he handled defrocked priest Geoghan
when he was an official in Boston. Daily served there from 1971
to 1984. In March he said he regretted some of the decisions he
made during that time.
-- In Chicago, Cardinal Francis George became one of the rare church
leaders to agree with victims' advocates in saying that any policy
dealing with sexually abusive priests should also discipline bishops
who fail to act on cases within their dioceses.
-- In Evansville, Ind., Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger, who has allowed
two priests to remain active despite sexual improprieties, said
he opposes zero tolerance. He said two priests in his diocese who
were rehabilitated and assigned to new parishes after sexual misconduct
are examples of successes that would have been impossible under
such a policy.
-- The Archdiocese of Miami has turned over about 50 years of sexual
abuse records to state prosecutors, Archbishop John C. Favalora
said. Favalora would not say how many records, which include sealed
settlements, he gave to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.