Catholic deacon suspended after allegations of ‘inappropriate behavior’

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Catholic deacon has been suspended from active ministry and teaching duties following an allegation of “inappropriate behavior with a minor.”

Information about the allegations have been turned over to the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, the Diocese of Knoxville said in a news release.

RELATED: Sexual abuses by Catholic priests in Knoxville during the 1990s alleged in new lawsuit

The allegations involving the deacon, Joe Stackhouse, are not related to a civil lawsuit filed by Michael Boyd on Thursday in Knox County court alleging multiple incidents of sexual abuse in the 1990s, the Diocese said in the news release.

The allegations also do not involve a current or former student at Knoxville Catholic High School, according to the release.

The move to suspend the deacon was taken Monday by Knoxville Bishop Richard F. Stika.

This latest development comes as the leader of the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests accused the Diocese of covering up sexual abuse by priests for years.

Susan Vance, leader of the group SNAP, said during a press conference Tuesday outside the church offices that several questions need to be asked of church leaders.

Vance pointed to allegations that had been made over the years about sexual abuse by church leaders.

“We respect and admire Ms. Vance for her advocacy on behalf of abuse victims everywhere, but we find her continued accusations of some sort of cover-up at the Diocese of Knoxville to be unfounded,” according to a statement by the Diocese of Knoxville emailed to the news media following the SNAP press conference.

“We have been unequivocal in our commitment to openness and transparency. We reject as baseless her claims that we have acted otherwise,” the church statement said.

“Under the leadership of Bishop (Richard) Stika, the Diocese of Knoxville has demonstrated a willingness to work openly with the media, and to communicate directly to our parishioners and the public with authenticity and a genuine respect for truth,” the statement said.

The Diocese of Knoxville was made aware of the lawsuit on the day it was filed last Thursday and issued to a leader to clergy leaders and staff on Friday and distributed to the media on Sunday, the Diocese said.

The Diocese has listed on its website, through postings from the Diocese of Nashville and the Diocese of Knoxville, priests credibly accused of abuse of a minor, including the location(s) of service of that priest whether the abuse occurred there or not, according to the statement.

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