Priest Says Milwaukee Archdiocese Mishandled Case, Owes Him $450,000

By Annysa Johnson
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
January 19, 2011

A Catholic priest restricted from ministry after the alleged sexual abuse of minors, and whose church trials have dragged on for years, says the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has mishandled his case and owes him about $450,000 in past wages and benefits.

Father Marvin T. Knighton, 60, of Phoenix made the claims in a Jan. 12 letter filed this week with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Milwaukee.

In a separate letter dated Jan. 11, which is also on file with the court, Knighton asks Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki to reimburse him for $3,855 in recent living expenses, incurred after the archdiocese announced in September that it would be cutting off stipends to priests whose alleged offenses were deemed credible.

Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Listecki, denied Wednesday that the archdiocese mishandled Knighton's case and said the church has no plans to reimburse him.

"The case has followed canonical procedures and is pending," he said.

Knighton did not return a telephone call. His New York canon lawyer declined to comment, saying he was prohibited by church law while a case is ongoing.

Knighton does not appear to be seeking creditor status in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed this month by the archdiocese.

He suggested in writing the $450,000 estimate was conservative.

"This of course does not include if I were to sue them in civil court for emotional damages, which I believe I could, if I choose to do so," he wrote.

Jury acquitted him

Knighton, who taught at Catholic and public high schools in the Milwaukee area, was charged in 2002 with two counts of second-degree sexual assault on accusations of kissing and indecently touching a boy in the late 1980s. He was acquitted in a jury trial the following year.

The Milwaukee archdiocese had received at least one other allegation against the priest dating to the 1970s.

It restricted him from priestly ministries in 2002, but the Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith ordered a canonical trial. The ruling was upheld at a Milwaukee tribunal in 2007 and is now on appeal in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.


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