State Watch

Lawsuit alleges Tennessee diocese failed to properly investigate sexual abuse allegations

A lawsuit filed Tuesday in Knox County Circuit Court alleges that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville and its bishop failed to properly investigate sexual abuse allegations against a former assistant to the bishop, The Associated Press reported.

A former employee of The Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, located in Knoxville, put forth multiple allegations of sexual harassment and sexual abuse by a former assistant to Bishop Richard Stika, according to the lawsuit, the AP reported. The abuse allegedly occurred in 2019.

The lawsuit alleges that Stika overreached when responding to these accusations, according to the wire service.

The diocese hired an outside consultant to investigate the employee’s sexual abuse claims, according to the lawsuit, which claimed Stika replaced the investigator.

The lawsuit said the investigator’s replacement only interviewed the former assistant who was accused of sexual abuse, neglecting to interview the employee who alleged abuse.

Stika and his attorneys were notified of the lawsuit Tuesday and are currently reviewing the claims, according to a statement released by the Diocese of Knoxville.

“The diocese understands that the legal system works at a very deliberate pace, and with good reason,” read the statement released Wednesday. “The diocese expects the process to be fair and thorough and looks forward to the opportunity to vigorously defend itself if this matter moves forward.”

Tags Diocese of Knoxville Kentucky Knoxville Richard Stika
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