TN - Victims challenge Catholic bishop

Memphis priest is accused of child sex abuse

He allegedly participated in "orgies" with other clerics

Group also wants prelate to post names of all predator priests


Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will disclose that a Memphis priest has been accused – by several men in civil litigation - of molesting kids in "orgies." They will also challenge Memphis’ Catholic bishop to:

--Disclose information and evidence about the allegations (made in litigation),

--Visit parishes where the accused priest worked and reach out to other victims, and

--Post on the diocesan website the names of all predator priests who have worked in western Tennessee.


Monday, Dec. 16 at 10:30 a.m.


On the sidewalk outside the Sacred Heart Catholic church, 324 Jefferson Ave. (corner of Cleveland) in Memphis (901-726-1891).


Two members of an independent international self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (, including a Missouri man who is the organization's long-time executive director.

Anna Whalley of the Crime Victims Services office will also be present to talk about resources for anyone who may have been molested.


SNAP has learned that a Memphis Catholic priest has been credibly accused by several men of molesting two kids in Memphis in the 1960s. He also “allegedly participated in orgies with Davenport Iowa priests,” according to legal records. (paragraph 18) (paragraph 4) (paragraph 5)

The group wants Memphis Bishop Terry Steib to disclose the allegations against Fr. James W. Murphy and visit each parish where he worked and beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to step forward and call police.

For “the safety of kids and the healing of victims,” SNAP also wants Steib to permanently post on his diocesan websites the names, photos, whereabouts and work histories of predator priests (proven, admitted and credibly accused).

Earlier this month, a Minnesota judge ordered a Catholic bishop there to release a list of 30 priests. Several similar lawsuits with similar demands are pending.

Roughly 30 US bishops have posted lists like this. That step is the “quickest and easiest” way for bishops to protect kids, SNAP maintains.

Fr. Murphy, now 91, lives at Villa Vianney in Cordova, TN (according to Intelius). Before that, he was at the Ave Maria Home (2805 Charles Bryan Rd, Bartlett, 901-386-3211) from 2000-2002.

He has had an unusual work history for a diocesan priest. Twice he has worked outside the diocese at Catholic facilities in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area (1996-2000 and 1994-1996). His last known job was in 2002 at St. Peter Manor in midtown.

Murphy worked in seven Memphis parishes: Sacred Heart (1948-52 and again 1985-88), St. Thomas (1952-54), St. Anthony of Padua (1963-66), Our Lady of Fatima (1966-68), St. James (1968-74), Our Lady of Sorrows (1974-79), and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (1983-85). He also worked at parishes in four other Tennessee towns: Cookeville (St. Thomas, 1954-58), Eastland (St. Charles, 1955-58), Union City (Immaculate Conception, 191958-63), Paris (Church of the Holy Cross (1958-63).

Fr. Murphy had other Tennessee assignments: Christian Brothers College (1979-82), Baptist Memorial Hospital (1984-85), VA Medical Center (1987-93), and Methodist Hospital (1981-84).

The Iowa priests who allegedly participated in the orgies are Fr. James Jansen, Fr. Francis Bass and Fr. Theodore Geerts, all of whom have had multiple child sex abuse lawsuits filed against them that have settled settled. None are in active ministry now. They attended seminary together in St. Louis.

(For more information on the Davenport documents that accuse Fr. Murphy: Terry McKiernan 508 479 9304, attorney Craig Levien 563-275-4076, 563-349-2180 cell, [email protected])


David Clohessy, Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143), 314 566 9790 cell ([email protected]

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant