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Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - Tennessee




Father James A. Rudisill - Hide In Plain Sight
How the Diocese of Buffalo and the Diocese of Nashville Protect criminal acts of a Bishop

The story of rape by a diocese of Nashville priest

In the early 1950s, an innocent 12-year-old girl was raped by her parish priest at Christ the King Roman Catholic Church in Nashville, TN.  Sadly, there was no justice for this young girl then or now.  Sixty-five years later, the saga of what this victim of clergy sexual abuse has gone through from pre-teen to adulthood is as much a crime as the rape by Father James Rudisill in the 1950s.

So often we hear, "Why are these victims just now coming forward?"  This woman did not just come forward today, she reported this in 1994 to Bishop Edward Kmiec with the then diocesan Vicar General and Chancellor J. Patrick Connor present.  Not only that, she traveled to Nashville to confront her attacker at a meeting arranged by Connor.  Kmiec did not even attend that meeting nor did the victim hear from Kmiec personally again.  

Her story of this crime-upon-crime action by the Catholic church is found at the "It's Not My Fault" project.  Click the link below: 

Buffalo News reports on the actions of Bishop Edward Kmiec in this clergy sexual abuse case

The Buffalo News published the following article by Jay Tokasz. 

A followup article by the News was published in which the Diocese of Buffalo with the backing of the Diocese of Nashville, TN refuted the claims.  

The following information should make it quite clear the the Buffalo News and Jay Tokasz correctly reported about the Kmiec/Rudisill/Nashville debacle.  Kmiec indeed "mishandled" the Rudisill case and caused further damage to his reputation and to the reputation of both dioceses:  Nashville and Buffalo.  

In July 1994 when Kmiec was told by the victim and he himself reported that Rudisill had confessed to him, Kmiec did the following:
1.  Failed to report to the police.
2.  Says he reported to "governmental authorities."  Who?  Where is the proof?  Which "governmental authority" would fail to act to protect children and teens from this pedophile?
3.  Failed to remove him from ministry for at least 6 months.  Maybe not even then.  Longtime parishioners of St. Catherine Church in Columbia, TN, would be able to remember if Rudisill was ever reported as having been removed from ministry.  Did he represent himself as a priest when he was living 3 minutes away from St. Catherine Church in 1995-1997?
4.  Failed to tell the people of the diocese.  
5.  Failed to make the so-called removal of Rudisill appear as anything other than "retirement."
6.  Failed to remove diocesan benefits from Rudisill and allowed him to "retire" in relative peace, first in Columbia and then in Memphis.
7.  Says that he told Rudisill not to "present himself as a priest" yet the diocese of Nashville presented him as a priest as late as the 2019 issue of the diocesan newspaper, Tennessee Register.  
More will be added as we investigate this situation.

Refuting the claims of the Diocese of Buffalo made by Lawlor F. Quinlan, III, diocesan lawyer 

LHere is a summary of the assertions of Lawlor Quinlan of the diocese of Buffalo as reported in the Buffalo News.

1.  Kmiec correctly handled the Rudisill abuse complaint in Nashville.  

2.  Kmiec removed Rudisill from ministry.

3.  Kmiec forbade Rudisill from presenting himself as a priest.

4.  Kmiec reported to a "governmental authority" about the case. 

False statement #1: Kmiec removed Rudisill from ministry

When the victim reported to Bishop of Nashville, Edward Kmiec, in 1994 that she had been raped by Father James A. Rudisill, it is stated that Kmiec removed Rudisill from ministry.  The very fact that James A. Rudisill was not laicized (defrocked) shows that the diocese did not take the victim's claim seriously.  Decades later, however, they list put Rudisill's name on their pedophile list:

The victim knew nothing about this publishing until SNAP of Tennessee made her aware of its existence.

The victim met with Kmiec and Connor in July 1994.  Rudisill was not removed from ministry.  In fact the OCD below shows his 1995 assignment.  Therefore, not only did Kmiec NOT remove Father Rudisill from ministry, he named him PASTOR of a church in the diocese of Nashville.  (Remember that no police report was made and no one in the public in general or the Catholic church specifically was ever told of Rudisill's crimes.)

The victim of Rudisill told Kmiec of the abuse in July 1994.  The 1995 Official Catholic Directory lists Rudisill as assigned as pastor at Holy Trinity Church in Hohenwald, TN.  How could this be if Kmiec removed him from ministry when he knew Rudisill was a pedophile in 1994?  One would almost believe that it was a misprint in the OCD except for the fact that the 11-8-2018 update of the Nashville pedophile list which contained assignments of pedophile priests also states that Rudisill was at Holy Trinity.  Therefore, Kmiec assigned Rudisill a pastorate AFTER knowing he was a pedophile, allowed him to serve there as pastor and then "retire" from there.  No removal from ministry.  That assertion of Buffalo and Nashville is false and provably so.

Rudisill assigned as pastor of Holy Trinity Church AFTER Bishop Edward Kmiec knew that he was a pedophile.  Rudisill served at least until February 1995 at Holy Trinity.  On the diocesan link to pedophile priests released 11-2-2018, the Nashville diocese lists him as retiring February 10, 1995.

Text from the Tennessee Register from the article naming pedophile priests (bold italics added for emphasis): 

■ Father James Arthur Rudisill. Born May 16, 1926; ordained May 19, 1951; retired Feb. 10, 1995; died Feb. 8, 2008.

His assignments included: assistant pastor of St. Ann Church in Nashville; assistant pastor of Christ the King Church in Nashville; assistant pastor of Holy Name Church in Nashville; chaplain of Scouting for Middle Tennessee; chaplain of the Catholic Business Women’s League in Nashville; assistant pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Memphis; youth director for the West Tennessee Deanery; pastor of Holy Angels Church in Dyersburg; pastor at St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro; pastor at Notre Dame Church in Greeneville and its mission in Rogersville; moderator of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women for the Chattanooga Deanery; associate pastor and pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Chattanooga; chaplain Knights of Columbus Council 610 in Chattanooga; pastor at St. Catherine Church in Columbia; dean of the Southwest Deanery; pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Hohenwald, Christ the Redeemer Church in Centerville, and St. Cecilia Church in Waynesboro.

The diocese of Nashville needs to answer what is in their secret canonical files about Rudisill's assignments after July 1994?  What were the terms of his retirement?  Did he continue to get a pension?  Did he get his health care and all benefits until his death in 2006?

False statement #2: Kmiec forbade Rudisill from presenting himself as a priest

Not only did Rudisill continue to present himself as a priest, the Diocese of Nashville continued to present him as a priest.  The Official Catholic  Directory lists Father Rudisill in the "Retired Priests" section  as noted below.  How could the diocese of Buffalo and the diocese of Nashville get this so backward?  This false statement by Lawlor Quinllan has a three part refutation:

1.  The OCD listings below which are submitted each year by the diocese to this Catholic directory, 

2.  The listings in the OCD for 1996 and 1997.  

Assignments from OCD for Nashville priest, Father James A. Rudisill

These are the entries from the OCD from the time Rudisill retired until his death.  He is listed each year under the "retired priests" section with "Rev. Father" as the mode of address given for him.  This was for the years from 1996 on through 2004 (I do not have access at the moment to 2005 and 2006).  How are we to believe that Rudisill did not present himself as a priest when the diocese of Nashville itself continued to present him as a priest each and every year until his death.  

Kmiec did not tell the people about removal of Rudisill from ministry.  Look where Rudisill is listed as living in 1996 and 1997.  Just minutes away from St. Catherine Church where he had been pastor for a number of years.  If the people were not told that Rudisill had been removed from ministry, then he could have easily presented as a priest with no questions asked by the people who still knew him there.  Did Kmiec have any consideration for the children and teens whom he put in danger?

OCD listings for 1996 and 1997

Both the Buffalo and the Nashville dioceses want us to believe that Rudisill went straight to Memphis after his so-called removal.  The Diocese of Nashville, however, submitted the following to the OCD  concerning Rudisill's whereabouts in both 1996 and 1997:

1996    Rudisill James A    Retired:  1500 Hampshire Pike, K-8 Columbia, TN  38401  
1997    Rudisill James A    Retired:  1500 Hampshire Pike, K-8 Columbia, TN  38401

This location is 3 minutes by car from St. Catherine Church in Columbia, TN where he had been pastor from 1984 to 1992.  If the diocese had been serious about "removal" and "not presenting as a priest" would they have allowed Rudisill live 1.9 miles from St. Catherine's in Columbia, TN (see image to the right)where he had a multi-year history of serving as pastor?  Were the people warned? No.  This is not a serious effort to protect children.  

No one was told that Rudisill was removed from ministry.  No one told the people at St. Catherine.  I am sure there are parishioners there who would recall this era in their church's history.  

Father Pat Connor was made the new pastor of St. Catherine's in 1996 ..  Was he sent there to watch Rudisill since he was closely involved in the cover-up of Rudisill by Kmiec?  Was this the way the diocese handled a pedophile priest instead of turning him over to police?  The mandatory reporting laws changed in Tennessee about that time.  Were Kmiec and Connor guilty of failing to report?

False statement #3: Kmiec drove to Louisville, KY, to meet with the woman and then took action against Rudisill

It is painfully obvious that this is a lie.  Kmiec and Connor went to Louisville, KY, in July 1994 at the victim's request.  Kmiec did not take action because he gave Father Rudisill a new assignment subsequent to this meeting.  

The victim then drove from Louisville to Nashville in early August 1994 to confront Father Rudisill.  Vicar general and chancellor Patrick Connor organized the meeting.  Connor and Rudisill were present at the meeting held in the rectory at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville.  Bishop Kmiec did not bother to attend.  In fact, the victim said that she never heard from Kmiec again after the meeting in Louisville. 

It was at this meeting that Connor told the victim that the diocese had decided the Rudisill as not "a risk" of being an abuser again.

False statement #4:  Kmiec notified the Diocese of Memphis (where Rudisill was then living) of the sanctions he had imposed

The OCD clearly shows that Rudisill lived for two years at least in Columbia, TN, just a few minutes from St. Catherine Church where he had been pastor for a number of years.  See this link for Rudisill's assignments from the OCD:  

Therefore, Father Rudisill did not leave Nashville area until sometime around the time of late 1997-1998.  He is first listed as living in Memphis in the 1998 OCD listing.  

Therefore, if Kmiec notifed the Diocese of Memphis it must have been around 4 years AFTER Kmiec did his "sanctions."  The words of Quinllan indicate that it was immediate.  Facts show otherwise.  

If the Diocese of Memphis was warned and if they took it seriously, then how did the following happen?

Obituaries don't lie!  Rudisill always presented himself as a priest until the day he died

Rudisill's obituary from the Memphis Commercial Appeal also shows his continued affiliation with the diocese of Nashville and his status as a retired priest.  Rudisill continued to "present himself as a priest."  The Diocese of Nashville apparently without 

REV. JAMES ARTHUR RUDISILL, 79, of Memphis, died Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at St. Francis Hospital. He was a retired priest from the Nashville Diocese. His Mass will be at noon Friday at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. There will be a one hour visitation prior to the Mass at the church. Burial will follow at Calvary Cemetery. He is survived by a sister, Mary Rudisill of Memphis. Family Funeral Care 901-761-8000
Published in The Commercial Appeal on Feb. 10, 2006

Grave markers do not lie

Listing from,  See full report:

Kmiec supposedly warned  the diocese of Memphis about Rudisill. One trip to Calvary Cemetery in Memphis proves this false.  Rudisill's grave shows dates of birth, ordination and death as well as the title of "Reverend."  He literally went to the grave representing himself as a priest.  

It is impossible to believe Kmiec when he says that he told Rudisill not to present himself as a priest.  There is clear evidence that Rudisill did not take that admonition to heart if indeed any admonition was ever given. The public was not warned.  The people in the church were not warned.  How many other teen girls could have been raped by James Rudisill as a result of the negligence of Bishop Kmiec?

Add all of this evidence up and it shows that the Diocese of Buffalo in conjunction with the Diocese of Nashville is trying to cover up the egregious behavior of Bishop Kmiec in the handling of this case as well as the continued cover-up by the Diocese of Nashville of the fact that they did not report either to the police or to the people.  

Most in-your-face, outrageous action  of all time just published in February 2019

Do you read your own newspaper?

Do Bishop Spalding and Rick Musacchio read their own paper?  Do they not see that Rudisill appears in this issue, February 8, 2019 and is "presented as a priest" even by these two top people of the diocese at this moment?  

Mr. Musacchio, you really had nothing to add to Lawlor Quinlan's comments in the Buffalo News?  Did you forget that Rudisill still remained a priest until his dying day?  Could you not have come up with the truth? 

Even as late as the February 8, 2019 issue of the Tennessee Register, the Diocese of Nashville was presenting Rudisill as a priest.  See Necrology to the left.  Here we see Rudisill listed as a priest.  So Kmiec forbade Rudisill from presenting himself as a priest but the Diocese of Nashville continues to present him as a priest even today? 

The masthead of the Tennessee Register names Bishop Mark Spalding as Publisher and Diocesan Communications Director Rick Musacchio as Editor-in-Chief.  It therefore follows that not only did Kmiec fail in his office as bishop in 1994 but Spalding has failed as well in 2019. 

This is a huge slap in the face by  the Nashville diocese.  There is desensitizing going on here and the Catholic Church continues to try to re-brand these pedophile priests.  This is another  instance of "good man misunderstood" program going on  across Tennessee with the two pedophile bishops:  Anthony J. O'Connell, first bishop of Knoxville and Carroll T. Dozier, first bishop of Memphis.  

Information about who was in charge when Rudisill was reported

Official Catholic Directory 1994.  Click here.  

Official Catholic Directory 1995.  Click here.  


Kmiec did not correctly handle the sex abuse complaint against Rudisill.  He did not handle it at all.  He says he removed Rudisill from ministry.  He did not.  He let him retire according to the diocese in February 1995 after making him pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Hohenwald, TN the remainder of 1994 and into 1995.  Kmiec reportedly told Rudisill NOT to present himself as a priest.  This did not happen. Note his grave marker in Calvary Cemetery in Memphis.  In fact the diocese of Nashville continued to refer to him as a priest even as late as February 8, 2019 in its diocesan newspaper, The Tennessee Register.  Kmiec was bishop from 1992 until 2004.  He had all those years of his tenure to correct the errors regarding Rudisill.  He did nothing.  He hide Rudisill in plain sight and did not confront the abuse issue at all.  He endangered children, teens and vulnerable adults.  Kmiec's behavior as well as that of Father J. Patrick Connor and any others who knew of this crime is abhorrent.  There is not strong enough language to condemn what the diocese of Nashville has done to this victim and to others who may be hidden in Rudisill's secret canonical file.  Bishop Spalding, open that file and report to the people.  Bishop Kmiec and Father Connor, admit your guilt in this cover-up. 

Questions to ask: 

The Buffalo News asked Rick Musacchio, Diocesan Communications director, about the handling of the Rudisill case by Kmiec and Musacchio stated the "he did not know any additional details."  So we are to assume that he agrees with all the mistakes made by the Diocese of Buffalo in the person of its diocesan lawyer?  

The article states that Kmiec did not tell the public at the time that Rudisill was removed from Ministry or that Rudisill was removed.  How are children to be protected from such irresponsibility.  Musacchio had the opportunity to stand up for truth when Jay Tokasz called to ask if they would like to add anything.  Not only did they not add any of the truth to the story, Musacchio continued the slap-in-the-face of victims in his own newspaper.