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.
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