Assignment Record– Rev. Ronald J. Atwood

Summary of Case: Ronald J. Atwood was ordained for the Columbus OH diocese in 1969. He assisted at and was pastor of a number of parishes and, for five years in the 1970s, he was in residence at Bishop Ready High School. In 1999 Atwood was arrested along with 42 other men at a park in a sting operation, after police received complaints of sexual activity by men
there. Atwood pleaded no contest to public urination and was fined $150. He was kept in ministry. In July 2013 the diocese received a report that Atwood had sexually abused a minor btween 1976 and 1979. The abuse allegedly occurred during his time at Bishop Ready and continued during his subsequent two parish assignments. Atwood was placed on Administrative Leave; the Diocesan Review Board determined the allegation to be credible. In 2016 the diocese settled with a former Ready student who alledged sexual abuse by Atwood from 1975-80 at the school and on road trips to a number of states. The diocese was in the process of appealing to the Vatican for Atwood's laicization when he died in April 2016.

Ordained: 1969
Died: April 14, 2016


Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Columbus bishop was John Joseph Carberry (1965-1968), followed by Clarence Edward Elwell (1968-1973).

1973 St. Aloysius Columbus OH 2/2, 1/2, 2/2 St. Aloysius had a parish with 259-210 students.


Edward John Herrmann succeeded Elwell (1968-1973), followed by James Anthony Griffin (1983-2004).

1977 Bishop Ready High School


In July 2013 an allegation was reported to the diocese that Atwood sexually abusing a minor 1976-1979. The diocese settled in 2016 with a former Ready student who claimed Atwood sexually abused him from the age of 16, 1975-80. He said the abuse occurred at the school, and during road trips to places including IL, MI, KS and MO. It is unclear if this is is the same man who in 2013 reported abuse.

OH In residence 1972-73. Bishop Ready had 771-569 students.
1977 1978 St. Stephen's Columbus OH 2/2 St. Stephen's had a school with 281 students.
1978 1982 St. Peter's Columbus OH 3/3  
1982 1991 Church of the Ascension Johnstown OH 1/1  
1991 2003 St. Thomas the Apostle


Atwood was arrested and charged with exposing himself at a public park in 1999. The arrest was the result of a sting operation by police after complaints of persistent sexual activity by men in the park. Forty-three men were arrested. Atwood pleaded no contest to public urination. He was fined $150.

OH 1/2, 1/1 St. Thomas' had a school with 250-112 students.
2003 2004 St. Joseph Cathedral Columbus OH 3/4  


Frederick Francis Campbell replaced Griffin as Columbus bishop (2004-).

2013 St. Francis of Assisi Columbus OH 1/1, 1/2

Atwood is not indexed in the 2014 Directory.

Atwood was placed on Administrative Leave in July 2013 after an allegation emerged that he had sexually abused a minor during 1976-1979. The Diocesan Review Board determined the allegation to be credible. The diocese stated that efforts were underway to have Atwood defrocked by the Vatican.

2013 2016 Administrative Leave       Atwood died April 14, 2016.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons 1970-2014)

Columbus Priest Placed on Leave after Allegations of Sexual Abuse Involving Minor, 10TV, July 17, 2013
Columbus Diocese Places Priest on Leave Amid Sex Abuse Investigation, Fox 28, July 17, 2013
Priest Removed from Parish Duties Amidst Allegations of Sexual Abuse, By Theodore Decker, Columbus Dispatch,
July 18, 2013
Former Johnstown Priest Accused of Sexually Abusing a Minor in '70s, Newark Advocate, July 18, 2013
Local Victims React to Pope's Statement on Clergy Sex Abuse, Fox 28, July 7, 2014
Assignment Histories for 16 Clerics Named in Recent Settlements by Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, researched by
Recent Priest Abuse Settlements, Boston Globe, March 28, 2016
Boston Archdiocese Settles with 7 Alleged Victims of Clergy Abuse, By Brian MacQuarrie, Boston Globe, March 28, 2016
Columbus Catholic Diocese Settles with Man Abused from 1975-80, By JoAnne Viviano, Columbus Dispatch, March 28, 2016
Boston Archdiocese Settles with 7 Alleged Victims of Clergy Abuse, By Simon Rios, WBUR, March 28, 2016
Attorney: Columbus Catholic Diocese reaches settlement with alleged abuse victim, By Maureen Kocot, 10TV
March 29, 2016
OH--Abuse case vs. Columbus priest settles, By Judy Jones, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests,
March 29, 2016
Diocese seeks to defrock priest after sex-abuse allegations, By Joanne Viviano, Columbus Dispatch, March 30, 2016
Columbus priest accused of sexual abuse dies of cancer, By Joanne Viviano, Columbus Dispatch, April 26, 201


Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Atwood's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on April 29, 2016.