Assignment Record— Rev. James "Jim" R. Nickel,

Summary of Case: James Nickel was a priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary ordained in 1970. His career took him from the Los Angeles CA archdiocese to the Winona MN and Fall River MA dioceses, the Diocese of Nassau in the Bahamas, and back to Fall River MA. He went on to become involved with Damien Ministries, an HIV/AIDS organization in Washington DC, working as its Executive Director from 2004 until his death in January 2008.

Nickel's name was included on a list released by Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian on April 11, 2012 of clerics accused in cases that he had settled in the previous year; a plaintiff alleging abuse by Nickel in Fall River received "six figures." In December 2014 two more lawsuits were filed with accusations that Nickel had sexually abused two boys - one in a West Harwich MA parish in the 1970s, and the other while Nickel was pastor of a Fairhaven MA parish in the 1980s. The diocese and Order settled in April 2017 with eight men alleging sexual abuse as boys by Nickel during the 1970s and 1980s; the boys were said to have been abused on Cape Cod and during trips to the Bahamas, Illinois, New York, Washington D.C., Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Plaintiff attorney Mitchell Garabedian stated that a letter dated November 1972 showed that Church leaders knew at that time that boys had accused Nickel of sexual abuse.

: 1970
Died: January 20, 2008


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Los Angeles archbishop was Timothy Manning (1970-1985).

1971 Bishop Amat Memorial High School La Puente CA   Bishop Amat High had 765 boys and 785 girls.


Winona bishop was Loras Joseph Watters (1969-1986).

1972 Fr. Damien Seminary Winona MN   This seminary was affiliated with St. Mary's College.
1972   St. Mary's Minnieska MN   This assignment is per the St. Paul and Minneapolis archdiocese.


Fall River bishop was Daniel Anthony Cronin (1970-1991).

1978 Holy Trinity

West Harwich

Nickel was accused in a December 2014 lawsuit of sexually abusing a boy while assigned to Holy Trinity.

. In April 2017 the diocese and Congregation of the Sacred Hearts settled with six men who had been Holy Trinity altar boys under Nickel. Plaintiff attorney Mitchell Garabedian stated that a seventh man had come forward alleging sexual abuse as a child by Nickel while the priest was assigned to Holy Trinity.

MA 3/3

Holy Trinity had a religious education program.

Per attorney Garabedian, Church leaders knew in 1972 of accusations against Nickel, as revealed in a November 1972 letter written by Nickel in which he denied accusations made by several boys. Nickel wrote that he "already had spoken to Major Superior Fintan Sheeran about the matter."

1972 1978 Our Lady of the Annunciation


One of the eight men who received a settlement from the diocese and Nickel's Order in April 2017 claimed abuse by the priest when he was an altar boy at Our Lady of the Annunciation.

MA   This was a mission of Holy Trinity in West Harwich (Summers only).


Nassau bishop was Paul Leonard Hagarty, O.S.B. (1950-1981), followed by Lawrence Aloysius Burke, S.J. (1981-2004).


Abaco Island

The April 2017 settlement included a claim by a man alleging Nickel sexually abused him as a boy during a trip to Abaco Island.

1982 1983   Marsh Harbour Bahamas    


Cronin was replaced as Fall River bishop by Sean Patrick O'Malley, O.F.M.Cap. (1992-2002).

1993 St. Mary's


Nickel was accused of sexually abusing a minor in Fall River in a lawsuit settled for six figures, as announced in April 2012. Particulars about the case were not made public.

Nickel was accused in a December 2014 lawsuit of sexually abusing a boy in the 1980s at St. Mary's.

MA 1/2, 1/3 St. Mary's had a religious education program with 512-371 students.
1993 1999 Sacred Hearts Provincial House Fairhaven MA   Nickel is not indexed beyond the 1999 Directory.


Washington DC archbishops were James Aloysius Hickey (1980-2000), Theodore Edgar McCarrick (2000-2006), and Donald William Wuerl (2006-).

2008 Damien Ministries



DC Director of administration and pastoral care until 2004; Executive Director 2004-2008

This assignment is per news reports. Damien Ministries was an HIV/AIDS organization.

Nickel diedJanuary 20, 2008.

In April 2017 the diocese and Congregation of the Sacred Hearts settled with eight men who claimed they were sexually abused as boys by Nickel. The abuses were said to have occurred in the 1970s and 1980s on Cape Cod, on trips to the Bahamas, Illinois, New York, Washington D.C., Rhode Island and New Hampshire.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1971-1999)

Father James Nickel, The Anchor-Diocese of Fall River, June 22, 1978
Priest Omitted from List,, November 20, 1999
Keeping the Faith, Damien Ministries Celebrates 20 Years of HIV/AIDS-related Service to the DC Community, by Yusef Najafi, Metro Weekly, November 8, 2007 [via Bondings,]
Death Notice: Fr. James R. Nickel,, January 23, 2008
Damien Ministries' Nickel Dies, Priest spent over a decade with HIV/AIDS organization, by Yusef Najafi, January 30, 2008
Settlements Reached in Clergy Sex Abuse Cases, By Lisa Wangsness, Boston Globe, April 11, 2012
Mass. Attorney Releases 6 Accused Clerics' Names, By Jay Lindsay, Coshocton Tribune, April 11, 2012
James Nickel - Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment, St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese, Downloaded Oct. 27, 2014
Lawsuits Allege Sexual Abuse Decades Ago by Harwich Priest, Cape Cod Times, January 22, 2015
Two New Lawsuits Filed Against Supervisors of Late Fairhaven Priest, By Steve Urbon, South Coast Today, January 22, 2015
8 settle Cape clergy sex abuse claims for $880K, By Haven Orecchio-Egresitz, Cape Cod Times, April 11, 2017
Diocese Settles Sexual Abuse Cases Against Holy Trinity Priest, By William F. Galvin, Cape Cod Chronicle, April 12, 2017

Priests 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.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Nickel's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on April 17, 2017.