U.S. Bishops Accused of Abuse

In the sexual abuse crisis, attention has focused on priests who have sexually abused children; the problem of bishops and major superiors who abuse has not received systematic scrutiny. Yet a bishop who is guilty of child abuse, or who has other violations of celibacy to conceal, has compromised his role in the formation of his priests and in assigning them properly. Bishops who sexually abuse seminarians, as Anthony J. O'Connell has admitted doing, may establish a generational pattern of clergy abuse. The following list includes 25 U.S. bishops who have been publicly accused of sexually abusing minors.


Arzube | Bransfield | Brown | Cowley | Dudley | Dupré | Ferrario | Gelineau | Harrington | Hart | Hubbard | Medeiros | Nienstedt |O'Brien | O'Connell | Rausch | Rueger | Ryan | Skylstad | Soens | James S. Sullivan | Joseph V. Sullivan | Symons | Weldon | Williams | Ziemann |







Juan A.

1954 Ordained
1954-71 LA priest
1971-93 LA auxiliary bishop
1993-2007 LA emeritus
2007 Died

Accused in 2003 of abusing a boy age 11 in 1975-76. LA archdiocese and LA Times list 1 allegation. Named in civil suit and included in $660M settlement in 2007.

LA Archdiocesan Report 2.17.04 page 1; Tidings 1.11.08; LA Times 1.12.08
LA Archdiocesan Report Addendum 11.15.05; LA Times Database 4.20.06


Michael J.
1971 Ordained
1971-79 Philadelphia priest and HS teacher, chaplain, vice-principal
1979-2005 Washington DC priest, director and rector of national shrine
2005-now Wheeling-Charleston WV bishop
Accused in a 2012 trial of other Philadelphia clergy of having sexually abused teen boys in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Another of the trial's witnesses stated that when he was a minor Bransfield spoke to him in a lewd way. A prosecutor at the trial said Bransfield was accused in a separate case of fondling a student. In 7/12 the Philadelphia archdiocese stated it learned of an allegation in 2007 that Bransfield fondled a high school student in the 1970s. Prosecutors did not pursue the case in 2007, but decided to reopen it in 7/12. Bransfield denied the allegations. CBS Philly, 4.18.12;Philadelphia Inquirer, 4.18.12; Charleston Daily Mail, 4.19.12; Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, 4.19.12; Charleston Daily Mail, 4.19.12; Philadelphia Inquirer, 4.20.12; Philadelphia Inquirer, 4.22.12; Philadephia Inquirer, 7.08.12; WTRF, 7.09.12; WTRF, 7.09.12;The Intelligencer, 7.09.12;
Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, 7.09.12; The Intelligencer, 7.10.12; West Virginia Public Broadcasting, 7.10.12; PhillyBurbs, 7.10.12; The Intelligencer, 7.11.12; Washington Post
BA.org Assignment Record


Tod D.

1963 Ordained
1963-88 Monterey-Fresno CA priest
1988-98 Boise City ID bishop
1998-now Orange CA bishop

Accused in 2007 of sexually abusing a boy age 12 in 1965. Brown admitted in 9/07 deposition that he had been accused and that diocese had investigated. He denied the abuse.

Orange County Weekly 4.24.07; Brown Deposition 9.10.07; LA Times 9.14.07; OC Register 9.30.07


Leonard P.
1938 Ordained
1938-57 St. Paul MN priest
1958-73 St. Paul auxiliary bishop
1973 Died
Name released 2/15 as one of 17 archdiocesan clergy accused of sexual abuse or misconduct with a minor. A man filed a claim that Cowley sexually abused him at age 15 during a trip to northern MN in 1968.

Jeff Anderson and Associates 02.11.15; Star Tribune 02.27.15
BA.org Assignment Record


Paul V.

1951 Ordained
1951-76 St. Paul MN priest
1976-78 St. Paul & Minneapolis auxiliary bishop
1978-95 Sioux Falls SD bishop
1995-2006 Sioux Falls emeritus
2006 Died

Accused in 5/02 of fondling an altar boy age 11 or 12 in 1950s. Dudley denied the charges. Two women also complained that he had molested them years previously. Church investigation found no evidence to support complaints.

Star Tribune 5.08.02; Pioneer Press 5.08.02; Argus Leader 5.08.02; Associated Press 2.12.03; Argus Leader 2.13.03; Star Tribune 2.13.03; Argus Leader 11.22.06


Thomas L.

1959 Ordained
1959-90 Springfield MA priest
1990-95 Springfield MA auxiliary bishop
1995-2004 Springfield MA bishop
2004 Indicted and resigned
2004 - 2016 Springfield MA emeritus
2016 Died

Accused in 2004 of sexually abusing two youths 20 years previously. Resigned same day and was sent to St. Luke's Institute where he was apparently still in treatment as of 6/06. Was sued in 2004. Indicted on two counts of rape in 2004 but not prosecuted because statute of limitations had expired.

Springfield Republican 2.11.04; Commonwealth v. Dupre Indictments 9.24.04; Springfield Republican 7.22.06; Springfield Republican 3.28.04; Springfield Republican 3.12.04; BA.org compilation of accused in Springfield Diocese; Springfield Republican 8.03.04; Boston Globe 9.30.03; Springfield Republican 2.06.05; Springfield Republican 10.23.05; Dallas Morning News 6.12.02; Boston Globe, 01.04.17
Springfield Republican 9.28.04


Joseph A.

1951 Ordained
1951-77 Honolulu HI priest
1977-82 Honolulu HI auxiliary bishop
1982-93 Honolulu HI bishop
1993-2003 Honolulu HI emeritus
2003 Died

Accused in 1989-90 and sued in 1991 for repeated sexual abuse of a teen-age boy, after Ferrario succeeded in the parish the boy's first priest-abuser, who had begun to abuse the boy at age 5. Ferrario denied the charge.

Time 8.19.91; Honolulu Star Bulletin 2.27.04


Louis E.

1953 Ordained
1953-71 Burlington VT priest
1971-97 Providence RI bishop
1997-now Providence RI emeritus

Accused in 1997 of taking an 11- or 12-year-old boy at St. Joseph's Orphanage in Burlington VT off by himself in 1951and pulling the boy's fly down. When the boy fled, Gelineau allegedly pursued him and tried to drown him. At the time, Gelineau was a brother at the orphanage, scene of much physical and sexual abuse. Gelineau's accuser also alleged sexual abuse by the orphanage chaplain. In a 1997 deposition, Gelineau stated that he remembered the boy at the orphanage. In his deposition, Gelineau also denies having any sexual contact with an altar boy in 1993.

Cadorette Deposition 5.16.97; Gelineau Deposition 4.2.97


Timothy J.

1946 Ordained
1946-68 Worcester MA priest
1968-83 Worcester MA auxiliary bishop
1983-94 Worcester MA bishop
1994-97 Worcester MA emeritus
1997 Died

Accused in 3/29/05 suit of sexually abusing a boy from age 11 to 15 three times; abuse consisted of genital fondling, anal penetration, and oral copulation. The diocese examined diocesan records and stated that it "found no basis of credibility to the claims."

MA Superior Court No. 05-0331(B); AP 3.31.05


Joseph H.

1956 Ordained
1956-76 Kansas City MO priest
1976-78 Cheyenne WY auxiliary bishop
1978-2001 Cheyenne WY bishop
2001-now Cheyenne WY emeritus

In 2002 the diocese of Cheyenne announced allegations that Hart had sexually abused 2 junior HS boys in the early 1970s in Kansas City; the allegations had come to the diocese in 1989 and 1992. An allegation pertaining to Hart's time as an auxiliary in Cheyenne was deemed not credible. In 2004, Hart was sued by 3 other men alleging abuse when they were boys. Hart is alleged to have had repeated sex with one boy during out-of-state trips, and is accused of bringing boys back to Kansas City for sexual purposes while he was bishop of Cheyenne.

Wyoming Tribune Eagle 4.25.02; Wyoming Tribune Eagle 5.15.02; Wyoming Tribune Eagle 7.30.02; Kansas City Star 1.22.04; NCR 2.6.04; NCR 9.16.05


Howard J.

1963 Ordained
1963-77 Albany NY priest
1977-now Albany NY bishop

Accused in 2004 of paying a teenager for sex on two occasions in the 1970s. Hubbard commissioned an investigation to examine this charge, as well as other allegations of sexual misconduct with adult males. The investigation, which did not have access to the complainant, found no credible evidence that Hubbard had violated his vow of celibacy.

White Report 6.24.04; Times Union 6.25.04



Humberto S.
1946 Ordained
1946-1966 Fall River MA priest
1966-1970 Brownsville TX bishop
1970-1983 Boston MA archbishop. Named Cardinal 1973.
1983 Died
Accused 2002 of sexually abusing 14-year-old boy in 1979. Accuser said Medeiros touched his groin while giving him a "bear hug" in the archdiocesan chancery, where he was allegedly molested the same evening by vice-chancellor Rev. Fred Ryan. Boston Globe 03.22.02;Boston Globe 03.25.02


John C.

1974 Ordained
1974-96 Detroit MI priest
1996-2001 Detroit MI auxilairy bishop
2001-07 New Ulm MN bishop
2007-15 St. Paul and Minneapolis archbishop
2015-now St. Paul and Minneapolis emeritus

Accused in 2013 of inappropriate touching of a boy's buttocks during a photo session after a confirmation in 2009. County attorney found "insufficient evidence" of abuse in March 2014. Nienstedt returned to full duty as archbishop. Internal investigation of alleged misconduct toward adults revealed July 2014. It reportedly found Nienstedt made "sexual advances" toward two priests. Resigned June 2015, per 401.2, soon after archdiocese was charged criminally for contributing to child sex abuse.

Letter by Nienstedt 12.17.13; Star Tribune
; MPR 06.15.15


Thomas J.
1961 Ordained
1961-1981 Tucson AZ priest
1982-2003 Phoenix AZ bishop
2003 Resigned
2003- Phoenix AZ emeritus
Accused in a 2017 lawsuit of repeated sexual abuse of a boy in Arizona when the boy was in 2nd to 5th grades during 1977-1982. O'Brien denied the allegations. Admitted in June 2003 to covering up child sexual abuse in his diocese. Arrested days later on charges related to a fatal hit-and-run auto accident. Resigned. Convicted in that case and sentenced to probation and community service. Phoenix AZ bishop emeritus. Washington Post 06.03.03Arizona Republic 06.17.03New York Times 02.18.04East Valley Tribune 03.27.04Arizona Republic 08.03.17Star Tribune 08.03.1712 News 08.04.17New York Times 08.04.17Phoenix New Times 08.07.17 


Anthony J.

1963 Ordained
1963-88 Jefferson City MO priest, seminary teacher, and rector
1988-98 Knoxville TN bishop
1998-2002 Palm Beach FL bishop
2002 Admits abuse and resigns
2002-2012 Palm Beach FL emeritus
2012 Died

Accused in 2002 of sexually abusing a student from 9th through 12th grade at St. Thomas Aquinas Preparatory Seminary in Hannibal, where O'Connell was rector. Complainant had gone to O'Connell because of prior abuse by another priest. O'Connell admitted the abuse and another similar case and resigned. Others came forward, totaling 9 by 2004, when 2 of 3 cases were settled. O'Connell moved to the Trappists' Mepkin Abbey near Moncks Corner SC. O'Connell died in 2012.

St. Louis Post Dispatch 3.08.02; Miami Herald 3.09.02; Kansas City Star 4.19.02; St. Louis Post Dispatch 4.03.03; Times Daily 7.18.03; Palm Beach Post 2.28.04; Palm Beach Post 5.17.04; Palm Beach Post 7.29.04; Kansas City Star 11.14.04; Metro-Pulse 11.16.06


James S.

1956 Ordained
1956-73 St. Cloud MN priest
1973-77 St. Cloud MN auxiliary bishop
1977-81 Phoenix AZ bishop
1981 Died

Accused in a 2001 affidavit of repeatedly having sex with a 17-year-old boy and giving him money, and then passing the boy on to Revs. Robert C. Trupia and William T. Byrne, who also had sex with the boy, no longer a minor, and employed him at the marriage tribunal to ensure his silence. Trupia would later win an appeal to the Vatican regarding his suspension.

Boston Globe 8.20.02


George E.

1958 Ordained
1958-87 Worcester MA priest
1987-2005 Worcester MA auxiliary bishop
2005-now Worcester MA emeritus

Sued in 2002. Accused of abusing a boy aged 13-14 in 1960s after giving him alcohol. Suit dropped 2003 by plaintiff. Diocesan investigation found no proof of charges and Pope's representative to the US agreed with the findings.

Telegram & Gazette 8.1.03; Catholic Free Press 7.20.03; Telegram & Gazette 4.21.03; Telegram & Gazette 4.01.03; Telegram & Gazette 7.15.03; Telegram & Gazette 7.07.06; Telegram & Gazette 7.18.06


Daniel L.

1956 Ordained
1956-81 Joliet IL priest
1981-83 Joliet IL auxiliary bishop
1983-99 Springfield IL bishop
1999-2015 Springfield IL emeritus
2015 died

Accused in 1999 suit of having multiple homosexual relationships, including one involving a 15-year-old boy in 1984. Ryan denied having such relationships.

AP 10.28.99; Herald News 5.05.02; Herald News 8.11.02; St. Louis Post Dispatch 9.4.02; State Journal-Register 2.3.04


William S.

1960 Ordained
1960-77 Spokane WA priest
1977-90 Yakima WA priest
1990-now Spokane bishop

Accused in 2005 of sexually abusing a girl under age 18 in 1961-64. Skylstad denied the allegation.

Spokesman-Review 3.09.06; USA Today 3.08.06; Seattle Times (AP) 6.08.06;
Spokesman-Review 3.08.06


Lawrence D.

1950 Ordained
1950-83 Davenport IA priest, HS teacher, and principal
1983-98 Sioux City IA bishop
1998-now Sioux City emeritus

Accused of sadistic abuse of 3 high school boys in 1960s. 1 claim settled for $20K in 2004. 2 suits pending as of 5/06. 7 new suits filed 5/06. Apparently 1 new suit with 13 plaintiffs filed 8/06 alleging abuse 1959-67. In 2/06 diocesan investigative panel found behavior may have been inappropriate but was apparently not sexual.

Des Moines Register 1.19.05; KCCI Channel 8 Television 3.09.06; Des Moines Register 5.03.06; WCF Courier 5.23.06; Iowa City Press-News 8.10.06; KTIV 9.06.06; Des Moines Register 1.04.06; Quad-City Times 2.24.06; KTIV 8.10.06; Des Moines Register 2.08.06; Gazette (AP) 2.08.06; Des Moines Register 6.08.05; Quad-Cities Times 8.17.05; Quad-City Times 2.09.06; Des Moines Register 9.06.06;
Plaintiff's Statement of Disputed Facts from Gould v. Soens with affidavits; Sioux City Journal 9.08.06; Daily Iowan 5.08.07; The Gazette 2.01.08; Quad-City Times 2.16.08; Quad-City Times 2.16.08
James S.
1955 Ordained
1955-72 Lansing MI priest
1972-85 Lansing MI auxiliary bishop
1985-2002 Fargo ND bishop
2006 died
In 6/02, Sullivan, who had been Bishop of Fargo ND, was accused fondling a youth in 1966 at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in East Lansing MI. Same Plaintiff settled with Christian Brothers in 1995 over abuse allegations against Bro. Jeffrey Gregory. Sullivan denied the charges and Diocese said it did not believe the allegations because the man didn't relate them sooner. Sullivan retired as Bishop of Fargo 3/18/02 after diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and died 6/12/06. Lansing State Journal 6.30.02; Lansing State Journal 7.11.02; Lansing State Journal 7.23.02; Lansing State Journal 8.5.02; Grand Fork Herald 6.13.06; Lansing St. Journal 8.24.10
Joseph V.
1946 Ordained
1946-67 Kansas City-St. Joseph priest
1967-74 Kansas City-St. Joseph auxiliary bishop
1974-82 Baton Rouge LA bishop
1982 died
Lawsuit alleged in 4/04 that Sullivan abused a youth in 1975, when the plaintiff was 17. Review board decided claim was "serious and deserving of careful attention." Suit settled 10/04 at mediation and sealed. Died 9/4/82. Name removed from school after 2004 settlement. Named in 2005 suit in HI re time in KC; settled 2007. New suit filed in 2007 in TX and settled 10/09 for $225K. The Advocate 11.11.04; Charleston Gazette (AP) 11.11.04; The Advocate 11.11.04; The Advocate 11.19.04; National Catholic Reporter 11.26.04; The Advocate 1.8.05; Obituary 6.14.06; Corpus Christi Caller Times 4.15.09; SNAP Statement 4.16.09; Kansas City Star 4.18.09; Corpus Christi Caller Times 10.13.09; The Advocate 10.15.09; Kansas City Star 10.16.09; Kansas City Star 11.6.09


Joseph K.

1958 Ordained
1958-81 St. Augustine FL priest
1981-83 St. Petersburg FL auxiliary bishop
1983-90 Pensacola-Tallahassee FL bishop
1990-98 Palm Beach FL bishop
1998 Admits abuse and resigns
1998-now Palm Beach FL emeritus

Resigned 6/98 when accused of molesting a boy who reported the abuse to a church official. Symons admitted abuse and also the abuse of 4 other boys. Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee knew of abuse in 1995 but did not act.

Palm Beach Post 6.03.98; Sun-Sentinel 4.24.02; Dallas Morning News 6.12.02; St. Petersburg Times 3.22.03; Palm Beach Post 2.28.04; Detroit News 10.20.06


Christopher J.

1929 Ordained
1929-50 New York NY priest
1950-77 Springfield MA bishop
1977-82 Springfield MA emeritus
1982 Died

Accused in 3/29/05 suit of sexually abusing a boy from age 11 to 16 about three times; abuse consisted of genital fondling, anal penetration, and oral copulation. The diocese examined diocesan records and stated that it "found no basis of credibility to the claims."

MA Superior Court No. 05-0331(B); Republican 3.31.05


J. Kendrick
1963 Ordained
1963-84 Louisville KY priest
1984-88 Covington KY auxiliary bishop
1988-2002 Lexington KY bishop
2002 Resigned when accused
2002-now Lexington KY emeritus
Resigned 2002 after accusations in suits by 3 altar boys who alleged abuse in the Louisville archdiocese in 1969 and 1981. Accused of abusing another altar boy in Covington diocese. Williams denied the allegations but resigned. Louisville Courier Journal 6.12.02; Courier Journal 9.29.02


G. Patrick

1967 Ordained
1967-86 LA priest
1986-92 LA auxiliary bishop
1992-99 Santa Rosa CA bishop
1999 Resigned
1999-now Santa Rosa CA emeritus

Named in archdiocesan report as abuser of 3 in 1967-86. Resigned as Bishop of Santa Rosa Diocese 1999. Suit in 2002 alleges abuse of youth in 1968 and lasting several years. Living in Tucson without faculties. Ziemann has denied at least one of the allegations.

LA Archdiocesan Report 2.14.04 page 3; SF Weekly 3.19.03; LA Weekly 3.18.03; OC Weekly 3.04.05; LA Times 12.18.03; John Roe 4 vs. Does, Cause No. 1156450, Superior Court of California; City of Angels 12.07.07
LA Times Database 4.20.06; OC Weekly 3.04.05

Note: The bishops included in this table and in our Database of Accused Priests meet the conditions described in our posting policy. This table and the database do not state or imply that individuals facing allegations are guilty of a crime or liable for civil claims. The reports contained in the database are merely allegations. 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.

We have not included Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, who has been accused of sexual misconduct with seminarians. McCarrick is not included on our list because the alleged victims were not minors 1.

We have also excluded from the table and the database the following allegations that were subsequently recanted or demonstrated to be incorrect: two allegations in 1992 against Bishop Gerald F. O'Keefe 1 2; an allegation in 1993 against Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin 3 4; two allegations in 2002 against Cardinal Roger M. Mahony 5 6 7; and an allegation in 2002 against Cardinal Edward M. Egan 8.

This page was last updated August 24, 2017.