Archdiocese Returns Rev. Gray to Active Ministry
A Police Investigation of a Sex-Abuse Allegation Ended with No Charges Being Filed against the Louisville Priest
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
July 23, 2002
The Archdiocese of Louisville has returned a priest to ministry after police closed a two-month investigation into an allegation of sexual abuse against him without bringing charges.
The Rev. Robert Gray, who officially retired in 1997 but assists at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Louisville, was returned to ministry late last week, according to Cecelia Price, spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic archdiocese.
Detective Bill Keeling, spokesman for the Louisville police, confirmed yesterday that the city-county Crimes Against Children Unit has closed the case. He said he could not provide details because the lead investigator was away on vacation.
Gray's accuser, James R. Sullivan Sr., still has a pending civil lawsuit against the archdiocese alleging abuse by Gray. Gray is not named as a defendant.
But given that Gray has denied the accusation, that police closed the case and there have been no other accusations against Gray, "Archbishop Kelly judged that it was appropriate to return Father Gray to active ministry," Price said.
Kelly asked Gray to refrain from public ministry on May 6 after learning that Sullivan had made an allegation about Gray to police.
On May 23, Sullivan sued the archdiocese, alleging that Gray molested him in the early 1980s while Sullivan was a student at St. Vincent DePaul School.
Gray was pastor at St. Vincent DePaul Church, which has since closed, from 1974 to 1984, according to the archdiocese.
Sullivan also alleges in his lawsuit that he was later molested by the Rev. Louis E. Miller.
Sullivan's lawsuit is one of 154 filed this year against the archdiocese, alleging abuse by more than 20 priests and other church employees over the past 50 years. It is the only suit naming Gray, and it is one of 63 naming Miller.
Phone messages left for Gray and Sullivan were not returned yesterday afternoon.
Attorney William McMurry, who represents Sullivan and most of the other plaintiffs suing the archdiocese, said yesterday that Sullivan's accusations are "credible" and that he is continuing to pursue the lawsuit by seeking access to archdiocesan records pertaining to Gray.
McMurry said he was not surprised by the police decision.
"I'd like to know their (police investigators') reason for not taking it, but I'm sure it's a reasonable one," McMurry said. "In virtually all of these cases, it comes down to a swearing contest.
"Childhood sexual abuse is a crime that rarely ever has a witness," he said.
The archdiocese has not commented on the lawsuit or filed any response in court as of yesterday.
Sullivan's lawsuit says that after the alleged abuse by Gray, Sullivan reported the incident to Miller, a priest working with his Boy Scout troop. The suit alleges that Miller responded by molesting Sullivan.
Miller has been indicted in Jefferson and Oldham counties on 56 counts of sexual abuse involving 23 children. Sullivan is not among the alleged victims named in the criminal indictments.
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