Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

healing & health: his offenses did not involve minors

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jan 16, 2004

A priest of the Lexington, KY, diocese was accused of abusing a boy in the early 1970s, the Herald-Leader reports:

A diocesan committee in Lexington that reviews allegations of sexual abuse decided the [newly revived] claim against the Rev. William G. Poole was "not credible," Bishop Ronald Gainer said. But a separate investigation, conducted by a neighboring diocese, resulted in a six-figure settlement with Poole's accuser last year, said two victims' advocates, who expressed outrage over the reinstatement. A spokesman for the Covington diocese confirmed yesterday that it had paid Poole's accuser, but would not discuss the size of the settlement.

What is not mentioned in the article, and would be good to know, is whether Poole protested the Covington settlement or consented to it. If he were as innocent as he now claims, one would think he'd be eager to have his day in court and vindicate himself, rather than allow himself to be permanently marked by the stigma of a six-figure pay-off. Bishop Gainer, at least, seems not to be troubled by the oddity:

Gainer said he is convinced that Poole was falsely accused and that he poses no threat to young parishioners. "If I thought that there was a risk to children from William Poole, I would not have restored his faculties at all," Gainer said.

Gainer reinstated Poole as "a priest in good standing." He has, one might say, a characteristically episcopal understanding of the term. Poole was arrested in 1990 in a local park as part of a prostitution sting. He pleaded guilty and paid the fine. Poole was again arrested in May of 2001 for masturbating in a public restroom in the presence of a police office; he again pleaded guilty and again paid the fine.

Even part from Poole's credibility as a witness to his own innocence, might you be inclined to feel he was unsuited for priestly ministry? If so, you're clearly not bishop material:

Gainer said he believes Poole's 15-month suspension was sufficient, and he noted that Poole's past sex-related offenses did not involve minors. ...

"Father Poole is receiving professional help, and I've had two serious conversations with him about the obligations regarding his lifestyle, and I do trust that he will make every effort to live a life in accord with his priestly duties," Gainer said.

Serious-conversations-about-lifestyle fans will remember Gainer's predecessor as Bishop of Lexington, Bishop J. Kendrick Williams, who was "credibly accused" of abusing an altar boy in 1981 and crashed and burned thereafter. Gainer was brought in from Allentown in the immediate aftermath, and insists he is committed to "promote healing and health."

Feel healed?

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