Lexington Priest Is Removed from Ministry
Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Stem from Work in Peru Years Ago

By Frank E. Lockwood
February 8, 2006

A Catholic priest in Lexington has been permanently removed from active ministry after "credible" allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him, church officials announced yesterday.

Rev. William J. "Bill" Spine, a Jesuit priest and associate director of the Lexington diocese's Hispanic ministry office, was relieved of his duties Thursday.

The 65-year-old priest will no longer live or work in the Lexington area, said Father James Gschwend, an official with the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus.

It's uncertain what Spine will do now. "He certainly will not be placed anywhere where he would be any harm to children," Gschwend said.

Spine had served in the Lexington diocese since 2001.

The alleged sexual misconduct occurred several decades ago in Peru, where Spine taught school, Gschwend said. The alleged victim was a teenage boy under age 18, Gschwend said. He would not reveal the boy's exact age or discuss the type of misconduct which occurred.

Gschwend would not discuss where in Peru the alleged misconduct happened, and he would not say whether the alleged victim had received a financial settlement.

Province officials found out about the misconduct several months ago, but did not remove Spine from the ministry until their investigation was complete, Gschwend said.

"When we received the complaint, we dealt with it as quickly as we could," he said.

Lexington diocesan officials would not answer questions. But in a press release, Bishop Ronald Gainer noted that the abuse had occurred "many years ago."

"Now our focus is on healing our communities," Gainer said.

David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, says church officials shouldn't have left Spine on the job and parishioners in the dark while the investigation was conducted. "So much for their promises to be more transparent," he added.


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