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Diocese of Lexington ACCUSED PRIESTS

The Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, was established in 1988. It covers 50 counties in Central and Eastern Kentucky and serves around 50,000 Catholics, approximately 3% of the total population of Kentucky. This Diocese faced scrutiny and exposure in recent years in light of child sex abuse victims coming forward.

The Diocese faced the first part of the scandal when, in 2002, the Church forced the Diocese’s founding bishop, James Hendrick Williams, to resign after three men accused him of molesting them while he was assigned to the Archdiocese of Louisville. Two of Williams’ alleged victims settled out of court in a significant class action lawsuit against the Catholic Church.

At least 32 people have come forward with abuse claims. Most of the abuse allegedly occurred before the establishment of the Diocese. During this time, the area covered was part of the Diocese of Covington and the Archdiocese of Louisville.

In August 2020, the Diocese released a list of clergy whose victims have credibly accused them of sexually abusing children. The list includes priests with substantiated allegations of abusing a minor, priests with credible allegations of abusing a minor, priests who served in the Lexington Diocese and are accused of abusing a minor by other dioceses, and unsubstantiated allegations of abusing a minor.

Anthony T. Jablonowski was ordained in the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky, in 1970 and left in 1976. He molested numerous children during his tenure as a priest in various jurisdictions, including Kentucky, Ohio, Wyoming, and Arizona. One former parishioner in the Diocese of Lexington, a former Lexington Catholic High School student, claimed that Jablonowski molested him in the 1970s. In 2004, Jablonowski pleaded guilty to sex abuse charges in Wyoming and faced sentencing of 15 months to 7 years in prison. The Church finally stripped him of his priestly duties in 2006.

One of the most notorious predator priests to serve in the geographical area now comprising the Diocese of Lexington was Leonard Nienaber (when the abuse happened, the area was part of the Diocese of Covington). In 1994, Nienaber was convicted of ten counts of child sexual abuse and ordered to spend ten years at a Catholic treatment center in Missouri. As part of a civil settlement with 24 victims of sexual abuse by Nienaber and at least five other priests, the Diocese of Lexington agreed to order Nienaber to remain at the treatment center for the rest of his life and to pay for counseling for his victims. The settlement also required the Diocese of Covington to pay the plaintiffs $5.2 million.

Many victims often wait to come forward with sexual abuse claims due to feelings of guilt, fear, or shame. Experiencing sexual abuse as a child is traumatizing, and many victims hope never to relive it. However, it’s vital to contact a knowledgeable and compassionate law firm that can help explain your legal rights if someone sexually abused you or a family member as a child in the Diocese of Lexington.

The Diocese of Lexington had a duty to protect its church members. Unfortunately, it failed to protect vulnerable members from child sex abuse, choosing to shield its own reputation and clergy members instead. You deserve to seek justice. Contact our legal team today for a free case evaluation to determine whether you can pursue a civil legal claim for compensation.

Ordained: 1968
Status: Sued
Ordained for the Diocese of Covington. Incardinated into the Diocese of Lexington when it was established in 1988. A man reported to the Lexington Bishop J. Kendrick WIlliams in 1993 that Fedders abused him three times in 1983 when he was a 14-year-old 8th grader and altar boy at Christ the King in Lexington. The alleged victim suggested a settlement of $200K in 1994, but the diocese offered only to pay for counseling. The man rejected the counseling offer. He filed a civil suit in 6/02. Fedders was suspended. Permanently removed in 9/04, given a ‘life of prayer and penance’. Case dismissed on SOL. Not reported to police until 2004. Included on the Covington diocese’s 7/31/20 list of those with substantiated allegation(s). On Lexington’s list in 8/20. It notes that Fedders admitted to “a single incident of inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor.”
Ordained: 1976
Status: Settled
Ordained for the Diocese of Covington. Incardinated into the Lexington diocese when it was established in 1988. Permanently removed from ministry in 2003. Accused of abuse of a girl for four years, beginning when she was 13 in 1980 at Holy Family in Ashland, and then stalking her for another 10 years. Name was revealed in support of allegations in a court case regarding abuse by another priest. In 3/06 the diocese announced that the allegations were credible. Vatican has been asked to laicize him. Included on the diocese’s list 7/31/20 of those with substantiated allegation(s). On the Lexington diocese’s list in 8/20. One known victim, who sued in 2003; settled. Gallenstein admitted to the abuse.
Ordained: 1945
Status: Settled
Diocese was warned several times 1974-78 about Modica’s behavior. Accused in 12/78 of smuggling marijuana to a 20-year-old male inmate at a State Reformatory. Pled guilty. Given a brief jail sentence. Sent to Paracletes in NM for treatment due to sexual misconduct. Reassigned. Accused in a 2003 lawsuit of abuse of a teenage boy in the mid-1970s. Court of Appeals denied plaintiff’s claim 8/5/11. Other cases settled. Retired in 2000. “Charter Suspension” 9/13/02. Died 10/30/15. Included on the Covington diocese’s list of those with substantiated allegation(s) 7/31/20. On the Lexington diocese’s list in 8/20. It notes one known Lexington victim and multiple victims elsewhere.
Ordained: 1950
Status: Sued
Several plaintiffs allege abuse by Murray and other priests in 2002 civil suit. Suit also named the Covington Diocese and the Lexington diocese (which came into existence in 1988). 1993 Catholic Directory showed him “retired.”. He died, (possibly in 1
Ordained: 1934
Status: Convicted
Ordained for the Diocese of Covington, which then encompassed Lexington. (The Lexington diocese was established in 1988.) Assigned 1960-79 to Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary in Lexington. Indicted in 1993 at age 86. Convicted in 1994 on 10 counts of sexual abuse of as many as 18 minors. Sentenced to 10 years (probated) and admittance to St. Jean Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, MO. In 2002 and 2003 17 women and a man filed suit. In a 12/03 settlement, 20 of 24 claims against the diocese were Nienaber victims. Age 97 and still living at the Vianney Center in 12/03; ordered by diocese to remain there after his 10 year sentence ended. Died 11/19/06, age 99. Included on the Diocese of Covington’s list 7/31/20. On the Lexington diocese’s list in 8/20.
Ordained: 1963
Status: Settled
Ordained for the Diocese of Covington. Incardinated into the Diocese of Lexington when it was created in 1988. Charged with public indecency in 1990 and 2001. Placed on leave for a year in 9/02 when diocesan officials learned of Poole’s second arrest. Reinstated in 1/04, even after a 2003 accusation that he had sexually abused a 15-year-old boy in 1972. The Lexington diocese’s review board deemed the allegations not credible, but the Covington diocesan board disagreed and paid a settlement to the plaintiff. Not reported to police until 2004. Died 12/28/18. Included on the Covington diocese’s list 7/31/20. On the Lexington diocese’s list in 8/20, allegation noted to be “unsubstantiated.”
Ordained: 1953
Status: Accused
Ordained for the Diocese of Covington. Retired in 1989. Opened a home for troubled teenage boys, Padre House, in southeastern KY. Died by suicide in 7/3/93, a day after he was questioned about a decades-old abuse allegation. Included on the Covington diocese’s list 7/31/20 of those with substantiated allegation(s). On the Lexington diocese’s list in 8/20. It notes credible allegations that Schaffer abused brothers at Good Shepherd in Frankfort in the 1960s and ’70s.

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