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  Archbishop Asked Priest to Leave Job in 1980s
Daniel Clark Accused of Molesting 19 Children

Associated Press, carried in Lexington Herald-Leader [Louisville KY]
May 5, 2003

LOUISVILLE - Roman Catholic officials talked with the Rev. Daniel C. Clark twice about voluntarily leaving the priesthood, years before he was accused of molesting children in a scandal now embroiling the church, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The Rev. Daniel C. Clark balked both times, and Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly declined to petition the Vatican to defrock him, The Courier-Journal reported, citing records surrendered by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville.

In lawsuits filed against the archdiocese, Clark is accused of molesting 19 children ages 5 to 17. He was convicted in 1988 of sodomizing one boy and sexually abusing another.

Clark, 55, now faces 60 years to life in prison if found guilty of new criminal charges alleging he abused two other boys from 1998 until last May. He has pleaded not guilty and his trial is scheduled to begin June 24 in Bullitt County Circuit Court. Clark has been held in the Bullitt County jail since his arrest Aug. 7, unable to make his $500,000 bail.

Records surrendered by the archdiocese include Clark's 373-page personnel file and 20 years of correspondence with Kelly.

The first time archdiocesan officials talked with Clark about leaving the priesthood was before his 1988 conviction "because of his past record" of molesting children, according to the records. The second such discussion was after his conviction, the records showed.

The records also showed Clark told his psychiatrist in 1986 that he wouldn't assign himself to a parish because "the risk is too great," the newspaper reported. Despite knowing what Clark had said, Kelly assigned him the next year to serve as a part-time pastor at SS Simon & Jude church, according to the records.

Immediately after his 1988 conviction, Clark confided to Kelly that he was "terrified of doing it again." While Clark was removed from public ministry upon his arrest and never again assigned to a parish, over the next 14 years he was allowed to volunteer his services to numerous organizations.

The archdiocese said it relied on Clark to tell the groups he volunteered with about the restrictions on his ministry, including that he was barred from working with children.

But representatives of several groups said they didn't know of his record or the restrictions.

Citing in part the pending litigation, the archdiocese's chancellor and chief administrative officer, Brian Reynolds, declined to respond to questions about Clark and how the church dealt with him.

Clark was ordained on May 24, 1980. He was assigned to St. Rita in Jefferson County.

Within a year, he had molested his first victim at St. Rita, he admitted later in court. Thirteen plaintiffs contend in lawsuits against the archdiocese that they also were abused by Clark when he was at St. Rita.

Clark later pleaded guilty in Jefferson County Circuit Court to molesting two children at St. Rita.

Other plaintiffs who have filed suit against the archdiocese allege that Clark molested them at St. Rita under the guise of helping expel their evil spirits, checking them for "nerves" and curing stomach aches.

In June 1982, about a year after allegations about Clark reportedly were made to the archdiocese, Kelly transferred Clark to another parish, St. Dominic in Springfield.

St. Dominic parishioner John Willis Grider, then 17, was sent by his mother to Clark for counseling because, according to court papers, the boy had been drinking, smoking pot and having problems in school.

"We had a few beers, and Clark produced a green, tin lock box containing marijuana, rolling papers and pipes," Grider said in court papers, describing his first counseling session in the summer of 1982.

"After a few hits of marijuana, Clark said he would teach me some relaxation exercises in his bedroom upstairs ... Clark massaged my chest and subsequently loosened my belt and unzipped my jeans."

Grider said that after Clark fondled and sodomized him, he walked home and told his mother, who reported it to St. Dominic's pastor, the Rev. James T. Blandford. Blandford said in an interview that neither parishioners nor Kelly ever told him about any improper conduct involving Clark.

Clark, however, apologized to Grider, according to an Oct. 18, 1982, letter addressed "Dear John" that is now in Clark's personnel file.

 
 

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