Alleged Victims; Men Say Williams Is 'Not Going to Admit' Abusing Them

By Wolfson Andrew
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
June 12, 2002

The three men who have accused Bishop J. Kendrick Williams of abusing them in the past said yesterday that his resignation was appropriate.

And they disagreed with Williams' statement that he resigned only to lift a cloud over the Diocese of Lexington - not because he did anything wrong.

"What else is he going to say?" said David Hall of New Haven. "He's not going to admit it."

Thomas C. Probus of Louisville said his only regret is that Williams will retain his priestly powers. "I think that is crazy," Probus said.

James W. Bennett, 34, who on May 21 filed the first suit naming Williams, said he wishes now he had never been introduced to the Catholic Church.

All three sued the Archdiocese of Louisville for allegedly failing to discipline Williams - or warn them about him - when he worked in Jefferson and Nelson counties between 1969 and 1981. Williams is not a defendant in the suits, has not been charged with a crime and has denied the allegations in all of the suits.

Bennett, who lives in Louisville, said he was about 12 or 13 and an altar boy at the Church of Our Lady in the Portland neighborhood when Williams molested him.

"He groped me and kissed me on the mouth," Bennett said. "I ran home. I was in shock.

"Here you are 12 years old and you have never had sex, let alone homosexual sex," he said. "It ruined my self esteem, but now that I've done something about it, it's going back up."

Bennett, a glazier, renovates church windows for a living, but so far, he said, his work hasn't taken him back to a Catholic church. "I wish I had never been introduced to the Catholic Church," he said.

In their suits, Probus and Hall allege similar conduct by Williams - that he asked them detailed questions about masturbation. The two plaintiffs don't know each other and didn't meet to discuss the complaints, said their lawyer, William McMurry.

Hall, now 51, says he was 18 years old and a senior at St. Catherine High School in Nelson County in 1969 when, during confession, "Williams began asking . . . whether or not he masturbated and demanded details."

Hall claims in his suit that he thought the questions were so inappropriate he decided not to attend confession again. But he said about a month later, Williams insisted that he do so, and this time, Hall alleges, Williams asked him questions about his sexual activity with girls.

After Hall said he mentioned that he had been unable to satisfy a girl once, Williams allegedly instructed him to "unzip your pants so I can examine your penis," then grabbed and fondled it, according to Hall's lawsuit.

Hall, a disabled veteran who has been married 30 years and has two children, said the memories were painful and hurt even more when he heard people describing "how wonderful it is that Williams is now a bishop."

Probus alleged in his lawsuit that when he was about 12 and a student at Holy Trinity School, he went to Williams seeking advice. Instead, Probus said in his lawsuit, Williams asked him: "Have you ever masturbated? It's a wonderful experience and when you do it, come and tell me all about it."

Probus, 33, says Williams never touched him improperly. "It's just words but it changes the way you think about people in higher places. It makes you think something is wrong with you. It makes you feel ashamed."


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