Complaints Led to Dickman Departure from Crisis Center, Counselor Says

By Laura Frank
The Tennessean
January 12, 2003

Former Nashville priest and principal Ron Dickman, accused of molesting two students while he was principal at Father Ryan High School, was asked to leave another Nashville job after reports of alleged child molestation surfaced, a Nashville therapist said.

Dickman, who has denied allegations of sexual contact with minors, became executive director of Nashville's Crisis Intervention Center in 1992. He had left the priesthood a year earlier.

Nashville counselor Joan Furman said she alerted a friend on the center's board of directors that a former client had reported that Dickman molested him as a teenager. The former client was John Cunningham Jr., although Furman said she did not refer to him by name at the time.

After officials at the center received two more similar warnings, they asked Dickman to leave, Furman said.

The board member whom Furman said she alerted, Franklin therapist Sue Worrell, said she could not comment on the matter. Furman said Worrell told her at the time that the board had received two more reports of allegations against Dickman and ultimately gave Dickman the option of resigning or being fired in the spring of 1995.

The Crisis Intervention Center is a nonprofit Nashville agency that offers a suicide prevention hot line, support groups and other crisis services.

Walt Baker, who owns a Nashville marketing firm and is a Crisis Intervention Center board member, said officials there had asked him to act as a spokesman for the board regarding questions about Dickman.

"I'll tell you what I am able to tell you," Baker said. "Basically, all I'm at liberty to say is he submitted his resignation before the board. The board accepted his resignation. As far as anything that took place in the board meeting or anything like that, I can't talk about it."

Dickman left Nashville without a job and moved to Florida in the summer of 1995, he told a reporter there when he was hired as executive director of Religious Community Services. Dickman still leads the Clearwater-based social services agency, which, among other things, serves disadvantaged children. Officials there would not say whom he had listed as references before taking the job, or whether any references had been called.


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