KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A former student at Catholic schools in Knoxville is alleging sexual abuse by multiple priests and a music teacher as well as a coverup by school and church officials.
The alleged abuses began in the early 990s, according to a civil lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Knoxville on Thursday in Knox County court.
Diocese of Knoxville Bishop Richard F. Stika sent a letter to clergy and staff on Friday about the lawsuit.
In the letter, Stika said no credible evidence had been found by an independent investigator for many of the allegations in the lawsuit, which was filed in Knox County Circuit Court by attorneys for Michael Boyd.
However, the lawsuit made allegations against a music teacher at two schools and the teacher has been suspended while the claims are investigated, Stika said in his letter.
“The diocese is unable to offer additional comment until new information, brought to light in the lawsuit, can be fully and independently investigated, and the legal process is completed,” according to a statement released Sunday by the Diocese of Knoxville.
“We ask that respect be given to all parties named in the lawsuit and that those accused be afforded the presumption of innocence until the merits of the lawsuit can be determined,” the statement said.
In the lawsuit, Boyd said he was abused by multiple priests beginning in 1991 when he was in the fourth grade.
The lawsuit says Boyd reported the lawsuit to school officials on at least two occasions, who threatened repercussions against himself and his family.
“When first presented with the allegations almost a year ago,” Stika wrote in his letter, “the Diocese of Knoxville immediately contacted state authorities and encouraged Mr. Boyd to file a report with law enforcement.
“Additionally, the diocese turned over all materials made available by Mr. Boyd to an independent investigator. The result of that independent investigation concluded there was no finding of credible evidence to support the allegations.”
While Boyd made the Diocese of Knoxville aware of his alleged abuses a year ago, the lawsuit makes new allegations involving a music teacher, prompting the suspension and investigation into those claims. according to Stika’s letter.