Our sex abuse attorneys have represented victims of sexual abuse by priests throughout Kentucky for nearly 20 years. Our team of experienced attorneys and an on-staff nurse can answer your questions about the process of filing a lawsuit against these predators, whether the abuse happened to you years ago or to your child recently. We will hear your story in a safe and confidential consultation and help you decide on your next steps. The abuse of children by Catholic priests is not a new problem in Kentucky, but recent national events may bring many more victims forward. We are ready.
Abuse of Children by Priests Across the Country and in Kentucky
Over a period of 70 years, more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused more than 1,000 identifiable children—and likely thousands more—in Pennsylvania, according to a grand jury report issued in August 2018.
The Pennsylvania report claims that bishops and leaders in the Roman Catholic Church covered up the abuse by pressuring victims not to report it and by convincing the police not to investigate the allegations. One of the people accused of covering up the sexual abuse of minors by priests is Bishop Ronald Gainer, a former leader of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky. Bishop Gainer is accused of asking the Vatican to protect two priests who were accused of child sexual abuse.
The details of the report are horrifying, but they are not unique. Victims throughout the country, including here in Kentucky, are now coming forward with stories of their own sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests.
In September 2018, the Kentucky Attorney General announced that he was seeking the Kentucky legislature’s authority to convene a state-wide grand jury to investigate allegations of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests. In the meantime, the Commonwealth of Kentucky is continuing to investigate individual claims of abuse and help victims find justice.
Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Louisville
In the October 18, 2018, issue of The Record Newspaper, Dr. Brian B. Reynolds, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Louisville, reports on the history of child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese. He notes hundreds of reports of child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Louisville over the years, but admits that many incidents likely remain unreported. While criminal and civil charges have been filed over the years, many of the abusers have since died.
Currently, two priests from the Archdiocese of Louisville have had substantiated accusations of sexual abuse of a minor made against them and are living under the penalty of “prayer and penance.” This means that the Holy See has determined that priests are of retirement age or have a serious illness, and therefore, has not removed them from the priesthood. Instead, these priests may not publicly identify themselves as priests, they may not celebrate Mass publicly, they may not administer sacraments, and they may not have unsupervised contact with minors.
Owensboro Sexual Abuse Victims Come Forward
In October 2018, the Diocese of Owensboro, which covers Western Kentucky, released important information about sexual abuse by priests within the diocese. The diocese was founded in 1937 and has had 366 priests throughout its history. There have been 66 formal allegations of child sexual abuse by 62 individuals against 27 priests. 11 of the priests are no longer living.
Some of the most recent allegations include:
- Two victims came forward in September 2018. While no names have yet been released, Tina Kasey, the Director of Communications at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Owensboro, reports that both victims are now elderly. The victims allege being sexually abused as children by priests who have since passed away.
- Three children accused Rev. Gerald Baker of sexual abuse. In October 2018, Ms. Kasey confirmed that Rev. Gerald Baker had been permanently suspended from performing priestly duties in August. Personnel from St. Mary of the Woods Catholic Church reported the accusations to law enforcement, but no criminal charges have been filed yet.
Other victims of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Owensboro are encouraged to come forward, even if years have passed since the abuse occurred. Victims may contact local law enforcement or the Diocese of Owensboro Pastoral Assistance Coordinator at 270-852-8380.
What to Do If You or Your Child Has Been Sexually Abused by a Priest
It is difficult to rely on law enforcement to see that justice is done after a priest has sexually abused a child. While law enforcement may bring criminal charges against an individual priest, law enforcement has not yet adequately addressed the cover-up by other church officials. That may change if the United States Attorney in Philadelphia brings racketeering or criminal conspiracy charges against officials in the Church, but as of October 2018, that has not yet happened.
Unfortunately, it remains up to you as the victim of childhood sexual abuse to seek justice not only against the priest who abused you but against the people in positions of authority who let it happen or who failed to take action when they knew or should have known about it.
You don’t have to fight alone, however. Contact us for a free consultation. We will help you understand your rights and your options for seeking justice for the horrible wrong you have endured. We know that nothing can undo what has been done, but we will do everything we can to help you recover.