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Diocese of Knoxville agrees to settle sexual abuse lawsuit out of court

The diocese denied the claims were valid after conducting an independent investigation, but said it agreed to financially settle the matter out of court.
Credit: WBIR

Author: WBIR Staff
Published: 5:00 PM EST December 31, 2019
Updated: 5:00 PM EST December 31, 2019


The Diocese of Knoxville said it has agreed to a financial settlement after a Blount County man filed a July 2019 lawsuit claiming he was sexually abused by a Knoxville priest and former bishop.

In the lawsuit  filed in Knox Co. Circuit Court, Michael Boyd claimed the abuse happened in the early 90s when he was serving as an altar boy and grade school student at Sacred Heart School. He also claimed the diocese covered up his abuse. 

Boyd--now in his late 30s--claimed now-dead Priest Xavier Mankel and former bishop Anthony O'Connell, also deceased, were among his abusers.


The suit also claimed then-bishop Anthony O'Connell engaged in "inappropriate touching and sexual contact" with Boyd.  

The diocese denied the claims were valid after conducting an independent investigation, but said it agreed to Boyd's request to financially settle the matter out of court because "pursuing this matter through the legal system could be time-consuming, costly, and detrimental to its mission of service." 


"Despite my personal feelings regarding the claim which names two now-deceased priests, I hope this action offers Mr. Boyd a path to peace and reconciliation," Bishop Richard Stika said.


The diocese said the settlement will be covered by insurance and will not impact the diocesan budget.