The Catholic Diocese of Owensboro says two victims have recently stepped forward with allegations of sexual abuse. One victim claimed the abuse occurred between 1944 and 1947. The other was in 1962.
Bishop William Medley says the accusations are against two different priests who are now deceased. In an interview with WKU Public Radio, he declined to release their names, but said there had been other complaints about them in the past. Medley says, to his knowledge, the priests were never disciplined because all of the complaints came after their deaths.
Bishop Medley says while he is horrified by the claims, it’s important to note the alleged abuse occurred before 2002 when U.S. bishops enacted a series of reforms.
"Everyone who works for the church, who works or volunteers in our Catholic schools, must participate in safe environment training where we're taught what proper boundaries are in relationship to children and the consequences of not following those," explained Medley.
Bishop Medley says he thinks the Church has made great strides in protecting youth, but he says the Owensboro diocese is taking every allegation seriously.
In an effort to be more transparent with the public, he says the diocese is reviewing its files to determine the number of priests and church employees who have had accusations made against them and the number of victims involved.
Bishop Medley says he understands how a report released last month from a Pennsylvania grand jury that detailed decades of sexual abuse and cover-ups has stirred up some painful memories. The diocese is offering counseling to sex abuse victims and encourages others to step forward with their claims. Medley says the Church should be part of the healing process.
"If someone associated with the church has been the one who has inflicted harm, it falls to the church to be a responsible agent," stated Medley.
The Diocese of Owensboro serves 78 parishes and 18 Catholic schools in western Kentucky.