Bishop Richard Stika and Knoxville Diocese in lawsuit over an alleged rape cover-up




In a shocking lawsuit filed in the Knox County Circuit Court of Knoxville Tennessee on February 22, 2022, the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville and Bishop Richard Stika face six counts including defamation, negligence in supervision, and retention as well as negligence in the training of a diocesan seminarian. Also, in the list of counts is intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuit describes the outrageous behavior of one of its seminarians, culminating in the rape of an employee of the diocese named John Doe for the purposes of this lawsuit. ‘The Pillar’ reported on the unrest in the diocese among both priests and the laity over many issues, including the retention of Sobczuk as a seminarian even after he was expelled from St. Meinrad Seminary, Rockport, Indiana, where three seminarians accused Sobczuk of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. Stika came under direct criticism for replacing his retiring executive secretary with Sobczuk.

Susan Vance, a leader of SNAP of Tennessee said, "This courageous victim has chosen to risk the criticism that too often accompanies recognition as a survivor of clergy sexual abuse. We applaud his actions to let the truth be told and justice be done."

We echo the words of our SNAP Leader in Tennessee, Susan Vance. The heroism of the brave victim, in this case, is simply remarkable. It takes a ton of courage to fight against such a large institution such as the church, we stand in full support of the truth.

 Under yet another dark cloud for the church’s hierarchy, this lawsuit and the events described have set into motion a mind-boggling series of revelations. And yet, church hierarchy still contends they are not at fault. We are disappointed that Knoxville Catholic officials put their reputations before the needs of victims. We hope Pope Francis will demand an immediate resignation from Bishop Stika for his deceitful, careless, and irresponsible behavior.

CONTACT:  Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]) Susan Vance, SNAP Leader Tennessee, (865-748-3518, [email protected]

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

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