Dying Man Told His Brother of Sex with Dickman As a Teen

By Laura Frank
The Tennessean
October 6, 2002

This is the story of a father and two sons - and a deathbed revelation that tested the faith of one of Nashville's most prominent and devoted Catholic families. The surviving son provided this information on condition that the name of the family not be published.

As his 31-year-old son lay dying, a lifelong Nashvillian and devoted Catholic man kept praying for the younger man's soul and urging his son: Take a last confession. Get your soul right with God.

It was September 1991. For years, the son had fought AIDS. The battle against the disease was lost. The father wanted to win the battle for his son's soul.

But the son refused. Finally, in desperation, his younger brother intervened. Do it for Dad, he begged. The older brother, for the first time, told his sibling why he did not want a priest by his side in his dying days.

"He said being around certain priests was probably what got him into this mess in the first place," recalled the brother, who remains a devoted Catholic and supporter of the church. "Then he told me about Ron Dickman."

Dickman, when he was principal of Nashville's Father Ryan High School, initiated a sexual relationship with the man, who was then a student, his brother said. The man thought he had ultimately followed a gay lifestyle because of his early sexual contact with Dickman, his brother said.

The brother said the day after that revelation, he went to the Rev. Charles Giacosa - then his parish priest - to demand Dickman's resignation.

"I said there's no room for negotiation," the brother said. "Father Giacosa told me it wasn't the first complaint like that about" Dickman.

Giacosa told him that Dickman had been removed from his position at Father Ryan in 1987 because of earlier allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior, the brother said.

Giacosa did not elaborate, he said. Giacosa did say Dickman had been assigned to Nashville's Dominican Campus. That is the home of St. Cecilia Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school, and Aquinas College.

Within weeks of the brother's meeting with Giacosa, Dickman was out of the priesthood. Giacosa, through the diocese spokesman, declined to comment. Dickman, through his attorneys, denied that he had sexual contact with the man when he was a student at Father Ryan. Dickman also denied that he was forced from the priesthood for such sexual contact.

After he left the priesthood in 1991, Dickman frequented Father Ryan events, such as football games, said Edward Krenson, who was then the school principal.

The younger brother said he contacted Krenson to warn that Dickman shouldn't be around the campus because he'd been dismissed for sexual contact with his brother.

"I told him they were asking for a liability they didn't need," the younger brother said.

Krenson, in an interview, said that he was "on the outside" concerning the details of Dickman's departure and that despite conversations with the man's brother, he "didn't understand Father Dickman had sexual relations" with the man when he was a student.

The younger brother said he was concerned to learn that the agency Dickman currently runs deals with disadvantaged children because, he said, "someone like Dickman is a wolf looking for the weak sheep."


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