Priest Accused of Molestation Resigns

The Associated Press, carried in Knoxville News Sentinel
August 23, 2006,1406,KNS_348_4938201,00.html

Jackson, Tenn. — The Rev. Richard Mickey, a priest accused of sexually abusing two teenage brothers more than 25 years ago, has resigned as pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church.

The Catholic Diocese of Memphis has found no wrongdoing by Mickey, but he is being sued by two brothers who accuse him of abusing them in 1980 when they were students at Bishop Byrne High School in Memphis.

Mickey told the St. Mary's congregation Sunday that he was resigning as pastor for "personal reasons."

"Father Mickey is not involved in any pastoral or public ministry, effective immediately," John Geaney, a diocesan spokesman, said Monday. "He indicated his resignation is due to the responsibilities he has with several diocesan tasks as well as dealing with the civil trial."

No trial date has been set for the suit filed by Blain and Blair Chambers.

Mickey was ordained in 1988. Earlier, he was a counselor at the Chambers' high school.

Because of the lawsuit, the diocese placed Mickey on administrative leave in 2004 but reinstated him to pastoral duties the following year.

That reinstatement angered members of a group called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

"He never should have been working as a priest with the civil trial pending," said Ann Brentwood, Southeast coordinator for SNAP. "We're relieved he resigned, but we still urge the diocese to work to find anyone who may have been hurt by him."

Mickey also was pastor at St. John's Catholic Church in Brownsville, Tenn., and St. Mary's Catholic School, a co-educational school for students in kindergarten through the eighth grade.

Church members at St. Mary's said they were sorry to see Mickey leave.

"People were literally stunned. It was a complete surprise," said church member Patsy Turner.

Mickey also has been a pastor at the Church of the Ascension in Memphis.

The Rev. Thomas Kirk, pastor at St. Mary's in Savannah, Tenn., will replace Mickey in Jackson and Brownsville.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.