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Buffalo Diocese says Bishop Kmiec correctly handled Nashville abuse complaint

A lawyer for the Buffalo Diocese defended retired Bishop Edward U. Kmiec’s handling of a case of alleged clergy sex abuse from Kmiec’s time as bishop of the Nashville Diocese.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests of Tennessee said this week that Kmiec allowed the Rev. James A. Rudisill to retire as a priest in good standing and remain in ministry, despite the priest’s alleged admission in 1994 that he had molested a 12-year-old girl in the 1950s.

But diocesan attorney Lawlor F. Quinlan III said that Kmiec did remove Rudisill from ministry and forbade him from presenting himself as a priest. A lawyer for the Nashville Diocese also notified governmental authorities in Tennessee about the case, Quinlan said in a letter emailed to The News late Tuesday.

"It is unfair and wrong to criticize Bishop Kmiec in this case when he correctly removed the offender from ministry," said Quinlan.

Quinlan also suggested that The News did not provide the diocese with enough time to respond to the criticisms of Kmiec.

Buffalo Diocese Bishop Richard J. Malone tells reporters Sept. 4, 2019, at St. Joseph's Cathedral Rectory in Buffalo that he won't resign despite criticism of his handling a clergy sexual abuse scandal and a complaint that a priest sexually  harassed an adult  seminarian. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

The News called Kmiec last week Friday and he referred the query to Buffalo Diocese spokeswoman Kathy Spangler, who provided no comments. The News also asked Rick Musacchio, spokesman for the Diocese of Nashville, for details about the handling of the Rudisill case and Musacchio said he did not know any additional details.

The News published its story online Monday afternoon and in print editions on Tuesday. No one from the Buffalo Diocese got back to The News to comment until Quinlan’s letter Tuesday evening.

Kmiec was Nashville bishop from 1992 to 2004 and Buffalo bishop from 2004 until his retirement in 2012.

SNAP leader Susan Vance also criticized Kmiec for not doing more to make the public aware of Rudisill when he learned of the abuse and for allowing Rudisill to retire with his reputation intact. A woman who is now 77 and lives in Kentucky said in an essay posted on a website maintained by SNAP that she met with Kmiec in 1994 to tell him of the abuse and that the bishop told her Rudisill had admitted what he did.

Quinlan said that Kmiec drove 175 miles to Louisville, Kentucky to meet with the woman and then took action against Rudisill.

“After the appropriate protocol was followed, Bishop Kmiec removed the priest from ministry, forbade him from presenting himself as a priest, and notified the Diocese of Memphis (where the priest was then living) of the sanctions he had imposed,” Quinlan said in his letter.

Kmiec did not tell the public at the time that Rudsill was removed from ministry or why he was removed. Rudisill retired in 1995 at age 68 and died in 2008.

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