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Former priest, dismissed on abuse charges, suing Milwaukee archdiocese

July 22, 2013

A former Milwaukee priest who was removed from ministry after being charged with sexual abuse but cleared by a jury in a civil trial, is seeking $450,000 in damages from the archdiocese.

Marvin Knighton says he was removed from the priesthood wrongfully, after a jury found him not guilty on sex-abuse charges. Church officials, conducting an independent inquiry, concluded that the charges against him were credible even if they did not meet the “reasonable doubt” standard required in civil law.

Knighton’s claim came to light in bankruptcy proceedings for the Milwaukee archdiocese. His name appears, alongside the names of sex-abuse victims, on the list of archdiocesan creditors.


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  • Posted by: Canonigo Regular - Jul. 23, 2013 10:33 PM ET USA

    After 2002 there was almost hysteria among bishops. Some innocent priests were accused (for money or revenge or even for fun)and some backboneless bishops threw them under the bus, dismissing them with no real evidence against them. What are they now to do - "take one for the team"? It is thought that suing the Church violates the Bible, but I am convinced that some bishops know they dismissed innocent men just to avoid more financial liability. Maybe suits like this will make them think again.

  • Posted by: jlw5096959 - Jul. 23, 2013 4:53 PM ET USA

    There are many sexual sins which are not crimes as defined by civil/criminal law, but which would warrant removing a man from the priestly ministry. The fact that the ex-priest was acquitted in court does not mean he is fit to serve as a priest. Certainly a bishop has the right to deal with his priests on his own canonical authority, without having to face a lawsuit or justify his decision to a secular court. This seems a clear breach of the 1st Amendment right of the Church to be Church.