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  Bishop Accused for Second Time
Former Louisville Student Files Lawsuit

By Art Jester
Lexington Herald Leader (Kentucky)
June 1, 2002

Bishop J. Kendrick Williams of Lexington's Catholic diocese has been accused for the second time of sexual abuse that allegedly occurred years ago.

David Hall, 51, of New Haven made the accusations in a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Louisville that was filed yesterday in Jefferson Circuit Court.

Hall's lawsuit described incidents that allegedly occurred in 1969, when Hall was a student at St. Catherine's High School in New Haven, where Williams served as a priest. The school was part of the Louisville archdiocese.

In the lawsuit, Hall alleged that during confession, Williams grabbed Hall's genitals and assaulted him. During earlier confessionals, Hall claimed, Williams had asked him inappropriate questions about his sexual behavior.

Hall was 18 at the time, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleged that the archdiocese knew that Williams had a pattern of sexually abusing students but failed to take action. Hall is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

Tom Shaughnessy, spokes-man for the Lexington diocese, said Williams was out of town and that the diocese had no comment.

The Louisville archdiocese also declined to comment. Last week, the archdiocese said it did not have any complaints on record against Williams.

Williams went on leave of absence last week, as required by diocesan policy, after he was accused of sex abuse in another lawsuit.

In that case, James W. Bennett, 33, of Louisville, alleged that Williams molested him in 1981 at the Church of Our Lady in Louisville, where Williams was a priest. Bennett was a 12-year-old altar boy at the time.

Hall said yesterday that he decided to come forward when he read that Williams had denied Bennett's accusations.

The bishop said that he did not remember Bennett and added: "I have never been brutal to anyone in my entire life."

Archbishop Thomas Kelly of Louisville issued a brief statement in support of Williams after Bennett's allegations. Hall said that he was angered by Williams saying he had never been brutal to anyone and by Kelly's statement.

"I hate to come forward, but I've just been holding this back all these years," Hall said. "I felt trapped and didn't know what to do."

Hall said Williams cannot claim that he does not know him.

Hall said the only time he has seen Williams since his school days was at a class reunion 15 years ago.

"We said 'hi' and that was it," Hall said.

The Nelson County resident said he is a former carpenter and contractor and is disabled.

Hall said he had told his parents years ago that Willlams "tried to fool with me" but they did not believe him. Hall said his wife is the only other person he had told about the alleged abuse until he decided to file the lawsuit.

The Lexington and Coving-ton dioceses were named as defendants in a $50 million class-action suit filed Thursday in Fayette Circuit Court. The plaintiffs were four men and one woman, all unnamed, who allege they were victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Lexington's Catholic churches were part of the Covington diocese before the Lexington diocese was created in 1988. Williams has been Lexington's only Catholic bishop.

Hall's lawsuit was one of six filed yesterday against the Louisville archdiocese. His lawyer, William McMurry, of Louisville, has filed 104 lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Louisville for alleged sex abuse.

Overall, the accusations name a bishop (Williams), nine living priests, three deceased priests, two former priests, a teacher and an ordained deacon.

 
 

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