Diocese responds to report of abuse of adult woman by priest

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On March 5, 2019, the Diocese of Nashville received a report from an adult woman of inappropriate activity involving Kevin McGoldrick, a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia recruited, hired and supervised by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia to work as the chaplain at Aquinas College and the Dominican Campus.

The report by the adult woman, who wished to remain anonymous, of an incident that happened a year and a half earlier appeared to be neither a civil nor canonical crime. The report made to the Diocese of Nashville was significantly different than the description of sexual assault subsequently reported to others and contained in published media reports.

Her initial report involved drinking alone with McGoldrick in his residence, but she said that incident did not involve touching of a sexual nature.

The report was immediately referred to the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia who had employed and supervised McGoldrick for six years and who had the authority and purview to investigate and respond to this matter.

As a pontifical order, the Dominican Sisters are not under the control of the bishop or Diocese of Nashville. The Bishop of Nashville provides an affirmation that theology taught at Aquinas College is faithful to Church teaching and assures that Masses and the sacraments are celebrated properly, but the sisters are solely responsible for the operation and supervision of the school and its employees.

McGoldrick was not incardinated in the Diocese of Nashville and was not acting as a priest or agent of the diocese or any of its constituent parishes, ministries or bodies at the time of the incident or the report.

The Diocese of Nashville had granted him faculties, or permission to perform religious sacramental duties in the diocese, solely because he was selected by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia to serve on their campus. The permission to perform those religious sacramental duties was granted after he passed a criminal background check and presented a letter of good standing from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia which provides the Church’s canonical oversite of his ministry. These faculties were withdrawn after the Dominican Sisters elected not to continue McGoldrick’s employment past June 2019 when his contract ended.

On July 2, 2019, after McGoldrick’s employment at the Dominican Campus had ended, the woman made a different report to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Nashville. That report said the incident at McGoldrick’s residence did involve sexual touching. 

The Diocese of Nashville confirmed that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had received and was investigating the new report of sexual touching. The diocese shared all of the information included in the initial report with the investigators from Philadelphia. 

The Archdiocese subsequently removed his faculties to work as a priest, and McGoldrick decided to voluntarily seek laicization. 

Early in 2020, the diocese was contacted by an attorney representing the woman who made the report in 2019 investigating the possibility of filing a lawsuit. The person making the report indicated that she had an employment opportunity in Virginia and in an effort to work toward a level of healing as a matter of pastoral concern for the person making the report, the diocese entered into settlement discussions.

The cost of the settlement of $65,000 was split between several Catholic entities. It was primarily intended to help cover counseling and related expenses, and her attorney costs, enabling her to move on with her new career opportunity.

The settlement proposed to the Diocese of Nashville initially included a confidentiality agreement, but in the interest of transparency, the diocese insisted that any potential settlement avoid having a non-disclosure requirement. Out of pastoral concern, the diocese continues to honor the woman’s request for anonymity.

The parties acknowledged the settlement agreement was not to be construed as an admission of validity or the merits of any claim or allegation made by the person making the report. Any and all liability was specifically denied.

The Diocese of Nashville encourages any victims of abuse to make a report to civil authorities as well the diocesan victim’s assistance coordinator, Vickie Lawson, at 615-939-0026.

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