Louisville archdiocese says proper steps were followed while investigating a priest

Courier Journal

June 26, 2019

By Billy Kobin

The Archdiocese of Louisville said it followed proper procedures while investigating a priest at a Highlands church who was accused of taking inappropriate photos of students.

But a national support group for survivors of clergy sexual abuse is calling on Vatican officials to discipline Archbishop Joseph Kurtz — the head of Louisville’s Catholic diocese — for “recklessly and secretively” handling the investigation into the priest, who was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.

As the Courier Journal first reported Tuesday, the Rev. Jeff Gatlin resigned earlier in June as pastor at St. Francis of Assisi, 1960 Bardstown Road, to deal with health issues, according to the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Previously: Louisville priest resigns after being accused of ‘inappropriate’ photos

Gatlin, 51, had been accused of “inappropriate picture taking” of students during a May 13 field day celebrating the end of the parish school year, officials said.

The church’s school serves students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

Archdiocesan spokeswoman Cecelia Price told the Courier Journal in an email that officials received one “specific complaint about a possibly inappropriate photo and some general concerns from other parents.”

Price said the photos were intended to be used for an eighth-grade video and that the photo related to the specific complaint “showed nothing inappropriate.”

“It was a shot of two students in a conference room working on room set-up,” Price said, declining to provide more specifics on the complaint.

One week after the field day, St. Francis of Assisi School principal Steve Frommeyer shared an email with parents in which Gatlin wrote that a “number of concerns have been raised and accusations have been made about my actions of taking pictures of students at the field day activities.”

“Though I do not believe I have done anything wrong, I have asked Archbishop Kurtz to appoint a temporary administrator so that I can cooperate with a review of what occurred, as well as my overall ministry as pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi Parish,” Gatlin wrote.

His comments were also included in a May 24 bulletin sent to parishioners.

“You are in my prayers. Please keep me in your prayers,” Gatlin wrote.

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