Assignment Record – Bishop J. Kendrick Williams

Summary of Case: Ordained for the Louisville diocese in 1963, Williams was a parish priest and convent chaplain. He held several chancery positions, including director of the Personnel Commission. In April 1984 Williams was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Covington, and consecrated that June. He was appointed first Bishop of Lexington in Jan. 1988, and installed in March. In 2002 Williams was accused in lawsuits of the sexual abuse of two boys and one young adult; the earliest incident was said to have occurred in 1969, and the other two in the 1980s. Williams denied the accusations. He resigned in June 2002.

May 25, 1963
Appointed: Auxiliary Bishop of Covington April 15, 1984
Consecrated: June 19, 1984
Appointed: Bishop of Lexington Jan. 14, 1988
Installed: March 2, 1988

Retired: June 11, 2002


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Louisville archbishop was John Alexander Floersh (1924-1967)

1965 St. Rita's Louisville KY 3/3 St. Rita's had a school with 1,021-1,066 students.

Williams is indexed and listed as Rev. James K. Williams.


Floersh was succeeded by Thomas Joseph McDonough (1967-1981)

1971 St. Catherine's

New Haven

Williams was accused in a June 2002 lawsuit of sexually abusing a male St. Catherine's high school student in 1969. Williams' accuser said the priest grabbed his genitals and assaulted him during confession, and that Williams had asked him inappropriate sexual questions during previous confessions. He said he came forward when he saw in the news that Williams said he had "never been brutal to anyone" in his life, in response to an accusation by another man.

KY 2/2, 2/3 St. Catherine's had a grade school with 346-260 students, and a high school with 196-121 students.
1965 1971   Icetown KY   This was a mission of St. Catherine's in New Haven.
1971 1978 Motherhouse and Novitiate of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Bardstown KY Chaplain  
Senate of Priests Louisville KY    


Thomas Cajetan Kelly, O.P. replaced McDonough as Louisville archbishop (1981-2007)

1983 Church of Our Lady


Williams was accused in a 2002 lawsuit of molesting a 12 year-old Our Lady's altar boy in 1981. The abuse is said to have happened once, and consisted of Williams groping the boy and kissing him on the mouth. The alleged victim said he ran home after the 9:30 mass that day and told his father and step-mother. Williams denied the accusation.

KY 2/2 In 1978 Williams changed his name from James K. to J. Kendrick.
1979 1984 Personnel Commission Louisville KY Director 1981-1984  
1978 1984 Archdiocesan Planning Louisville KY    
1983 1984 Holy Trinity


Another man accused Williams in 2002 of having made an inappropriate sexual remark to him when he was a 12 year-old Holy Trinity student. The accuser said he went to Williams for advice, and that Williams asked him if he ever masturbated and added, "It's a wonderful experience and when you do it, come and tell me all about it."

KY 1/3

Holy Trinity had a school with 449 students.

Williams was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Covington April 15, 1984 and consecrated June 19, 1984.


Covington bishop was William Anthony Hughes (1979-1995)

1988 Auxiliary Bishop


A former diocesan groundskeeper accused Williams in June 2002 of making sexual demands on him and that Williams "repeatedly sexually and physically assaulted" him in 1986 and 1987. The worker was a young adult at the time in question. The man's father was maintenance director of the diocese for 42 years. The two men claimed they were fired for complaining about Williams earlier in 2002. Diocesan chancellor, Rev. Gerald Reinersman, denied the men were fired.

1984 1988 Vicar General Covington KY    


James Kendrick Williams was bishop of Lexington (Jan. 1988-June 2002)

1988 On-Going Renewal Covington KY   Williams was appointed first Bishop of Lexington Jan. 14, 1988, and installed March 2, 1988.
1988 2002 Bishop Lexington KY   Williams resigned June 11, 2002.
2002 2012 Retired/Bishop Emeritus Lexington KY   In Dec. 2002 the Lexington diocese announced that Williams was moving out of the diocese, to an undisclosed town in the Louisville archdiocese.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1964-1988)

Lexington Bishop Accused, Man says he filed abuse suit to protect others, By Smith Peter Hall, Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), May 22, 2002
Bishop Denies Sex Abuse Allegation, Catholic Leader to Go on Leave As Required by Diocesan Policy, By Art Jester and Jim Warren, Lexington Herald Leader (Kentucky), May 23, 2002
Bishop Accused for Second Time, Former Louisville Student Files Lawsuit, By Art Jester, Lexington Herald Leader, (Kentucky), June 1, 2002
Diocese: Lawsuits Are 'Fiction', Bishop Denies Allegations, Lexington Herald Leader, June 7, 2002
Lexington Bishop Resigns His Post
Williams Faces 3 Suits Accusing Him of Sex Abuse, By Art Jester and Frank Lockwood, Lexington Herald Leader (Kentucky), June 12, 2002
Alleged Victims; Men Say Williams Is 'Not Going to Admit' Abusing Them, By Wolfson Andrew, Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), June 12, 2002
Lexington Bishop Williams Resigns, Catholic Official Insists He's Innocent of Sex Abuse, By Smith Peter, Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), June 12, 2002
Former Employees Sue Diocese of Covington; Claim Abuse, Associated Press State & Local Wire, June 25, 2002
Church in Crisis, Alleged Victims Say Incidents Altered Lives, Comprehensive look at lawsuits against archdiocese shows many similarities, The Courier-Journal, September 29, 2002
Church in Crisis, Bishop J. Kendrick Williams, Louisville Courier-Journal, September 29, 2002
Former Lexington Bishop Moving to Another Town, Undisclosed Spot Is in Louisville Archdiocese, By Valarie Honeycutt Spears, Lexington Herald Leader (Kentucky), December 12, 2002
Diocese Reaches Settlement with Two Accusers, Associated Press State & Local Wire, June 17, 2003
Head Count of Ousted Bishops, Freedom From Religion Foundation, October 7, 2004
Accused Priests and, Survivors of Childhood Sexual Assault in Louisville, Kentucky, Compiled by William F. McMurry & Associates,
Louisville KY, Downloaded and Reformated December 23, 2005
Accused U.S. Bishops ,

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 Williams'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 Dec. 17, 2012