Nashville Diocese Releases Names of 13 Former Priests Accused of Sexually Abusing Minors
By Holly Meyer
November 2, 2018
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Nashville has published the names of 13 former priests accused of sexually abusing minors. The ex-clergy listed served as priests from the 1940s to the 1990s and held positions at Catholic parishes, schools and youth programs across the state.
Nashville Bishop J. Mark Spalding decided to release the names — many of which local media have already reported — in response to this summer's damning Pennsylvania grand jury report that found allegations of widespread clergy sex abuse and cover-up in six of that state's dioceses.
"It's really a part of the ongoing effort that Bishop Spalding has been stressing of transparency and accountability and pastoral care for people of the diocese," said Rick Musacchio, Nashville diocese spokesman. "He thought it would be appropriate for us to publish these names at this time as part of that effort."
The recent wave of the sex abuse crisis has renewed scrutiny of how the global Catholic Church handles allegations and bishop misconduct.
High-profile church leaders have lost their jobs and states have started their own investigations. The U.S. Department of Justice is involved, too, and recently told all dioceses in the nation to preserve records related to child sexual abuse.
On the heels of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, several dioceses have agreed to name their accused priests, too.
The Nashville diocese printed the names of the 13 former priests in Friday's edition of the Tennessee Register, an official publication of the Nashville diocese. Of those listed, nine are dead, two are in Tennessee state prisons and two are still alive. None are in active ministry.
Critics question timing, call for independent investigation
Critics of the decision raised concerns that voluntary disclosure by the diocese is not enough and an independent investigation is needed. They also questioned why the diocese waited so long to release the names.
"The diocese in my estimation is not competent to investigate itself," said Ron Deal, a deacon at Holy Family Catholic Church in Brentwood.
He argued the self-reporting by the diocese creates a false sense of security. Deal thinks the only way to address the abuse once and for all is to open up all of the diocesan records in Tennessee for inspection by an independent agent like the state attorney general's office.
Musacchio said he does think the list is complete, based on the diocese's documents.
"We've done the best we can on our records," Musacchio said. "I think we've tried to be clear about that, but we always encourage anyone who knows of abuse to report it."
|Former priest, Edward J. McKeown, center, enters court for his arraignment March 17, 1999. McKeown is currently in prison after pleading guilty in 1999 to raping a teenage boy when he was no longer a priest. (Photo: Ricky Rogers/The Tennessean)|
Susan Vance, a leader for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests of Tennessee, said she saw an early version of the Nashville diocese's list. It prompted her to send a letter to the Nashville diocese on Thursday sharing additional names for it to investigate and consider adding to the list, she said.
Vance criticized the diocese for past decisions to remove priests but not telling the public they had allegations of abuse against them.
She said her organization to no avail has long asked the Nashville diocese as well as Memphis and Knoxville dioceses to compare their records and release priest names and where they served. Vance would not disclose those additional names with the USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee, citing a need to protect victims.
"I think they are sensing the pulse of the nation and the movement of district attorneys impaneling grand juries, and they're trying to get ahead of that movement by trying to show some kind of cooperation here after decades of never wanting to say a word, not a word about it," Vance said.
Musacchio said he did not know why the list of names had not been released until now.
But, nearly 20 years ago, the Nashville diocese did turn over abuse case files to prosecutors during the criminal investigation of ex-priest Edward J. McKeown, who is currently in prison and on the list.
What was shared at the time included files on at least three of the men the diocese named this week, said Musacchio, who is not sure if authorities reviewed the others on the list.
However, the diocese did alert the Davidson County district attorney and the Tennessee attorney general that it was publishing the names and offered to cooperate with both offices, Musacchio said. The diocese extended a similar offer after the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, but neither office has taken them up on it, he said.
On Friday, the diocese released basic biographical information about the 13 men as well as lists of where each of them were assigned to serve in Tennessee. They had formal assignments, but a diocesan priest's duties could have taken them anywhere, Musacchio said.
He did not know in what years the abuse was alleged to have happened, but Musacchio said the diocese has not received a contemporary allegation of abuse of a minor by a priest since the mid-1980s. But allegations have surfaced several years after the reported abuse.
The 13 former priests named were ordained between 1940 and 1973. For nearly all of that time, the boundaries of the Nashville diocese covered the entire state of Tennessee. But when the dioceses of Memphis and Knoxville were created in 1971 and 1988, respectively, some of the men on the list came under those dioceses' administration, which the Catholic Church calls incardination.
One of the men on the list was a Benedictine priest from Cullman, Alabama, but served in the Nashville diocese at the time of the alleged abuse.
The names of the 13 former priests accused
Based on their own records, the Nashville diocese says the following former priests have been accused of sexual abuse of a minor:
Edward James Cleary was ordained May 18, 1940, and died Nov. 10, 1997.
James William Murphy Jr. was ordained April 3, 1948, and incardinated into the Memphis diocese in 1971. He died Oct. 11, 2016.
James Arthur Rudisill was ordained May 19, 1951, and retired Feb. 10, 1995. He died Feb. 8, 2008.
Edward Albert Walenga was ordained May 30, 1953, and died Nov. 27, 1983.
Roger R. Lott was ordained in 1954 and was a Benedictine priest serving in Nashville in the 1950s. He was removed from duty by his order in 1996 and placed in a restricted setting. He died May 22, 2011.
William Floyd Davis was ordained May 26, 1956, and incardinated in the Memphis diocese in 1972. He died Oct. 26, 2011.
Joseph L. Reilly was ordained May 26, 1956, and dismissed in 1965 from the priesthood of the Nashville diocese. He died March 9, 1981.
Paul Frederick Haas was ordained May 23, 1959, and dismissed May 24, 1977, from the priesthood of the Nashville diocese. He died June 7, 1979.
Paul Wiley St. Charles was ordained May 21, 1966, and incardinated into the Memphis diocese in 1971. He was dismissed in 2004 from the priesthood of the Memphis diocese. He died Dec. 27, 2009.
William Claude Casey was ordained May 2, 1969, and incardinated into the Knoxville diocese Sept. 8, 1988. He was dismissed in 2010 from the priesthood of the Knoxville diocese. He is currently serving time in prison for abuse committed while he was a priest.
Edward Joseph McKeown was ordained Jan. 31, 1970, and dismissed from the priesthood of the Nashville diocese March 1, 1989. He is currently in prison after pleading guilty in 1999 to raping a teenage boy when he was no longer a priest.
Ronald W. Dickman was ordained June 5, 1971, and dismissed from the priesthood of the Nashville diocese in 1991. When a reporter went to his house Friday, a man in the driveway said Dickman had no comment.
Franklin T. Richards was ordained Jan. 26, 1973, and dismissed from the priesthood of the Nashville diocese March 1, 1989. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Knoxville diocese is grateful the list was released, they said in a statement Friday evening.
"We regret the actions of the priests who are listed in it," Jim Wogan, a representative for the Knoxville diocese said in the release.
The allegations against Casey, the only man on the list incardinated in Knoville, stemmed from the early 1980s, before the Knoxville diocese was formed, the statement said.
Knoxville's statement revealed one other alleged case of sexual abuse of a minor. Steven LaPrad never went to trial, and he died in 2014, according to the statement.
The Knoxville diocese does not have any credible accusations or active investigations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, the statement indicated.
Spalding, who became the Nashville diocese's new bishop in February, released the names after consulting the Presbyteral Council, which is made up of diocesan priests, and the diocesan review board, a lay panel that advises Spalding on allegations and policies to prevent and respond to abuse.
The diocesan review boards were one of the measures the Catholic Church implemented after the explosive clergy sex abuse scandal that unfolded in 2002 in the Archdiocese of Boston and other dioceses around the U.S.
The boards came out of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002. It and its revisions set procedures for addressing allegations of clergy sexual abuse of minors.
The diocese adheres to the charter. Today, its Safe Environment program includes policies on responding to abuse of minors and abuse of professional relationships. The diocese also has a victim assistance coordinator as well as a code of conduct all church personnel must agree to and mandatory background checks.
The diocese and its insurance company have spent about $6.5 million for abuse victims since 2002, according to the Tennessee Register report. This includes counseling, pastoral assistance and the $1.1 million settlement related to the lawsuits brought about McKeown.
"I think the most important thing that even in light of this is to understand if anybody knows of abuse please report it," Musacchio said. "Our offer for pastoral assistance to victims remains in effect, and the victim assistance coordinator is available to anyone who wants to reach out no matter how long ago that abuse might have taken place."
Information on the diocese's policies for protecting children can be found on its website at dioceseofnashville.com/child-safety.
SNAP-Tennessee also has resources for victims on its website at rememberthesurvivors.com.
Mariah Timms contributed. Reach Holly Meyer at email@example.com or 615-259-8241 and on Twitter @HollyAMeyer.
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13 former priests
The Nashville diocese named 13 former priests accused of sexually abusing minors and where they were assigned in Tennessee. This information was published in the Tennessee Register:
Edward James Cleary
Born April 18, 1914; ordained May 18, 1940; died Nov. 10, 1997.
His assignments included: Assistant Pastor of the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville; Assistant Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Memphis; Assistant Pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Nashville; Professor at Father Ryan High School in Nashville; Administrator Pro Tem at Resurrection Church in Cleveland, Tennessee; Chaplain, U.S. Army Air Corps; Pastor, St. Paul Church in Whitehaven.
James William Murphy Jr.
Born Sept. 12, 1922; ordained April 3, 1948; incardinated into Diocese of Memphis in 1971; died Oct. 11, 2016.
His assignments included: Assistant Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Memphis; Assistant Pastor of St. Thomas Church in Memphis; Director of the Ladies of Charity for the West Tennessee Deanery; Blessed Sacrament Church in Harriman; St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Cookeville; Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Union City; Administrator of St. John Vianney Church in Gallatin; Pastor of St. Anthony Church in Memphis; Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Alcoa and attached mission; Pastor of St. James Church in Memphis.
James Arthur Rudisill
Born May 16, 1926; ordained May 19, 1951; retired Feb. 10, 1995; died Feb. 8, 2008.
His assignments included: Assistant Pastor of St. Ann Church in Nashville; Assistant Pastor of Christ the King Church in Nashville; Assistant Pastor of Holy Name Church in Nashville; Chaplain of Scouting for Middle Tennessee; Chaplain of the Catholic Business Women’s League in Nashville; Assistant Pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Memphis; Youth Director for the West Tennessee Deanery; Pastor of Holy Angels Church in Dyersburg; Pastor at St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro; Pastor at Notre Dame Church in Greeneville and its mission in Rogersville; Moderator of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women for the Chattanooga Deanery; Associate Pastor and Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Chattanooga; Chaplain at Knights of Columbus Council 610 in Chattanooga; Pastor at St. Catherine Church in Columbia; Dean of the Southwest Deanery; Pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Hohenwald, Christ the Redeemer Church in Centerville and St. Cecilia Church in Waynesboro.
Edward Albert Walenga
Born Nov. 2, 1926; ordained May 30, 1953; died Nov. 27, 1983.
His assignments included: Assistant Pastor of Little Flower Church in Memphis; Assistant Pastor at Holy Ghost Church in Knoxville and Professor at Knoxville Catholic High School; Assistant Pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Chattanooga and Chaplain to Newman Clubs; Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Humboldt; Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus Council in Jackson; Pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Cookeville; Pastor of St. Patrick Church in McEwen and Dickson mission; pastor of Notre Dame Church in Greeneville and St. Henry Mission in Rogersville; Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Springfield and the St. Michael Mission in Cedar Hill; Pastor of St. John Vianney Church in Gallatin.
Roger R. Lott
A Benedictine Monk/Priest in Cullman, Alabama; ordained in 1954; removed from duty and placed in a restricted setting by his order in 1996; died May 22, 2011.
In the 1950s, Father Lott was in residence at the Cathedral serving in the Diocese of Nashville while pursuing a degree at Peabody College in Nashville.
William Floyd Davis
Born Aug. 17, 1929; ordained May 26, 1956; incardinated in the Diocese of Memphis in 1972; died Oct. 26, 2011.
His assignments included: Assistant Pastor of Christ the King Church in Nashville; Administrator of the Church of the Assumption in Nashville; Pastor of the Church of the Assumption; Administrator of St. William Church in Millington; Assistant Pastor of St. Louis Church in Memphis and teacher at Catholic High School for Boys in Memphis; Pastor of Notre Dame Church in Greeneville and its Rogersville mission; Pastor of St. Patrick Church in McEwen and St. Christopher Church in Dickson.
Joseph L. Reilly
Born Dec. 16, 1928; ordained May 26, 1956; dismissed from the priesthood of the Diocese of Nashville in 1965; died March 9, 1981.
His assignments included: the Cathedral of the Incarnation; Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Chattanooga, St. Michael Church in Memphis and St. Henry Church in Nashville.
Paul Frederick Haas
Born Dec. 14, 1933; ordained May 23, 1959; dismissed from the priesthood of the Diocese of Nashville on May 24, 1977; died June 7, 1979.
His assignments included: Assistant Pastor of the Cathedral of the Incarnation; Assistant Pastor of St. Ann Church in Nashville and teaching at Father Ryan High School; Assistant Pastor of St. John Church in Memphis and teacher at Memphis Catholic High School for Boys; Assistant Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Memphis. In addition to assignments in diocesan records, he is also known to have served at St. Jude Church and Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga and in the Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas, and the Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky.
Paul Wiley St. Charles
Born June 23, 1939; ordained May 21, 1966; incardinated into the Diocese of Memphis; dismissed from the priesthood of the Diocese of Memphis in 2004; died Dec. 27, 2009.
His assignments included: Assistant Pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Knoxville; Assistant Pastor of St. John Church in Memphis; Chaplain for Scouting in the Memphis area; Moderator for the Ladies of Charity; Director of the Catholic Youth Office for the Memphis area and part-time professor of Catholic High School for Boys in Memphis.
William Clause Casey
Born Jan. 4, 1934; ordained May 2, 1969; incardinated in the Diocese of Knoxville on Sept. 8, 1988; dismissed from the priesthood of the Diocese of Knoxville in 2010; currently incarcerated.
His assignments included: Associate Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Chattanooga; Pastor of Notre Dame Church in Greeneville; Diocesan Director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference; Pastor of St. Dominic Church in Kingsport; Dean and Episcopal Vicar of the Kingsport Deanery; Director of Vocations for the Kingsport Deanery; Pastor of St. John Neumann Church in Knoxville.
Edward Joseph McKeown
Born March 18, 1944; ordained Jan. 31, 1970; dismissed from the priesthood of the Diocese of Nashville on March 1, 1989; currently incarcerated.
His assignments included: Associate Pastor of St. Edward Church in Nashville and part-time professor at Father Ryan High School; Associate Pastor at Holy Rosary Church; Associate Pastor at St. Joseph Church in Madison; Administrator of Blessed Sacrament Church in Harriman, St. Ann Church in Deer Lodge and St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Lenoir City; academic duties at Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga; Administrator of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in South Pittsburg, in residence at St. Augustine Church in Signal Mountain; Associate Pastor at St. Augustine Church in Signal Mountain; Administrator at St. Bridget Church in Dayton; Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Harriman and its mission; Pastor of St. Thomas Church in Lenoir City and St. Ann Church in Deer Lodge.
Ronald W. Dickman
Born July 13, 1944; ordained June 5, 1971; dismissed from the priesthood of the Diocese of Nashville in 1991.
His assignments included: Director of Camp Marymount; Associate Pastor of St. Edward Church and full-time professor and later principal at Father Ryan High School; Associate Director of Vocations for the Nashville Deanery; Diocesan Director of Vocations; Associate Pastor of St. Henry Church in Nashville; Associate Pastor of St. Ignatius of Antioch Church; Catholic Charities of Tennessee; St. Mary Villa in Nashville.
Franklin T. Richards
Born March 18, 1947; ordained Jan. 26, 1973; dismissed from the priesthood of the Diocese of Nashville on March 1, 1989.
His assignments included: Associate Pastor of Christ the King Church; Associate Pastor of St. Henry Church; Pastor of St. Patrick Church in Nashville; Principal of Knoxville Catholic High School; Pastor of the Seymour Catholic Community; Associate Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksville.
Knoxville names priest
After the release of names by the Nashville diocese, the Knoxville Diocese named an additional priest.
Ordained 1995; dismissed from the priesthood of the Diocese of Knoxville in 2001; died 2014.
His assignments included: parochial vicar of St. Mary Church in Johnson City; parochial administrator of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Lenoir City; pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle.