|Rev. Marvin T. Knighton
Summary of Case: In 1993 a man confronted Knighton with allegations that Knighton had sexually abuse the man's high school aged son in 1988 and 1989. Knighton himself told the Milwaukee archdiocese about the allegations to "clear this up". The archdiocese didn't act because, they said, there was not a formal complaint. The son went to the archdiocese in 2002 with the same allegations. After a second (anonymous) person alleged past child sexual abuse, the archdiocese removed Knighton from ministry and reported him to the District Attorney. Knighton was criminally charged and put on trial. He was acquitted by a jury in 2003. Despite the acquittal, the archdiocesan review board upheld the allegations, saying there was a "preponderance of evidence" of child sexual abuse. At least one more person surfaced with allegations by 2004. Knighton has since been fully restricted from ministry. He moved to Phoenix in 2002 with his then 9 year old adopted son. He had raised two other adopted sons, having gotten permission from the Vatican to adopt.
Milwaukee archbishop was William Edward Cousins (1958-1977)
• The archdiocese received a report in 2002 that Knighton had sexually abused a minor in 1975.
|WI||3/3||Parish had a school with 452 students.|
Cousins was succeeded by Rembert George Weakland, O.S.B. (1977-2002)
|1987||St. Pius XI High School||Milwaukee||WI||Counselor, Teacher, Campus Minister||School had 1,726-1,901 students.|
|1987||1988||Absent on Leave||Knighton adopted two Korean boys in 1088.|
|Whitnall High Schools||Milwaukee||WI|
|1988||1991||St. Pius XI High School||
• In February 2002 a 28 year old former St. Pius student told the archdiocese that Knighton sexually abused him in 1988 and 1989. Per his accuser, Knighton had befriended him in 1986 when he was 12 years old and his mother was dying of cancer. The accuser testified that the first inappropriate touch was when Knighton kissed him on the lips the day his mother died.
|WI||Counselor, Teacher, Campus Minister||
School had 1,827-1,705 students.
Archdiocesan officials didn't notify the District Attorney until April 2002. Knighton was criminally charged in June of that year.
|1992||1994||Mount Mary's College||Milwaukee||WI||Campus Minister||
School had 1,531-1,533 students.
In 1993 the father of the boy who said he was abused by Knighton in 1988-1989 told Knighton of the allegations and Knighton, in turn, told the archdiocese to "clear this up". Archdiocesan officials said they did not act because there was not a formal complaint.
|1995||1995||St. Martin de Porres (African American)||Milwaukee||WI||1/2||Knighton adopted a two year old boy in 1996.|
Knighton is not indexed in the 1997 Directory.
This assignment is per the Milwaukee archdiocese.
|1998||2000||Dominican High School||Whitefish Bay||WI||
Knighton is not indexed in the 1999 or 2000 Directories.
This assignment is per the Milwaukee archdiocese.
Phoenix bishop was Thomas Joseph O'Brien (1981-2003)
|2001||St. Mary's High School||Phoenix||AZ||Campus Minister||
School had 825 students.
Milwaukee vicar for clergy, Rev. Joseph F. Hornacek, wrote in a June 2000 letter to the Phoenix diocese that Knighton was a priest in good standing and that there was "nothing in his background that would require us to limit any ministry with children".
|2001||March 2002||Archdiocesan Office for Schools and Child Youth Ministry||Milwaukee||WI||Consultant|
Weakland was replaced in Milwaukee by Timothy Michael Dolan (2002-2009)
Knighton was restricted by the archdiocese from contact with minors in February 2002 after he was accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1988 and 1989. Archdiocesan officials didn't notify the District Attorney until April 2002, when a second allegation surfaced of abuse of a minor dating to 1975. At that point Knighton was removed from public ministry. He was criminally charged in June of that year. He then moved to Phoenix with his 8 year old adopted son.
Knighton was acquitted in August 2003 by a Milwaukee County jury.
Milwaukee archbishop Dolan was succeeded by Jerome Edward Listecki (2009-)
Phoenix bishop O'Brien was replaced by Thomas James Olmsted (2003-)
• By 2004, there was at least one more allegation against Knighton.
Despite Knighton's 2003 acquittal, the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Review Board upheld the allegations of child sexual abuse against him, citing a "preponderance of evidence." He remained fully restricted from ministry. His name does not appear in the Directories after 2003.
After the Milwaukee archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in January 2011, Knighton told a bankruptcy judge that the archdiocese owed him $450,000.
Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1976-2003)
• Priest Charged with Youth Sex Assault, By Marie Rohde, Journal Sentinel Online, June 18, 2002
in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's
place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest
listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor)
and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4
means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample
page from the Directory.
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