Catholic diocese releases names of priests accused of abuse, including 8 who served Memphis area

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Catholic Diocese of Nashville has released the names of 13 priests accused of sexually abusing minors, and eight of them served  churches in Memphis and West Tennessee at some point in their careers.

All eight of the priests who had assignments in Memphis and West Tennessee are now dead. Others on the list are incarcerated. None are in active ministry.

The names on the list are:

  • Father Edward James Cleary, died 1997. His assignments included Assistant Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Memphis and Pastor of St. Paul Church in Whitehaven.
  • Father James William Murphy Jr., incardinated into Diocese of Memphis 1971, died 2016. His assignments included Assistant Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Memphis; Assistant Pastor of St. Thomas Church in Memphis; Director of the Ladies of Charity for the West Tennessee Deanery; Pastor of St. Anthony Church in Memphis; and Pastor of St. James Church in Memphis.
  • Father James Arthur Rudisill, died  2008. His assignments included Assistant Pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Memphis.
  • Father Edward Albert Walenga, died 1983. His assignments included Assistant Pastor of Little Flower Church in Memphis; Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Humboldt; Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus Council in Jackson.
  • Msgr. William Floyd Davis, incardinated in the Diocese of Memphis 1972, died 2011. His assignments included Administrator of St. William Church in Millington; Assistant Pastor of St. Louis Church in Memphis and teacher at Catholic High School for Boys in Memphis.
  • Joseph L. Reilly, dismissed from the priesthood of the Diocese of Nashville 1965, died 1981. His assignments included St. Michael Church in Memphis.
  • Paul Frederick Haas, dismissed from the priesthood of the Diocese of Nashville 1977; died 1979. His assignments included Assistant Pastor of St. John Church in Memphis and teacher at Memphis Catholic High School for Boys; Assistant Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Memphis.
  • Paul Wiley St. Charles, incardinated into the Diocese of Memphis; dismissed from the priesthood of the Diocese of Memphis 2004; died 2009. His assignments included Assistant Pastor of St. John Church in Memphis; Chaplain for Scouting in the Memphis area; Moderator for the Ladies of Charity; Director of the Catholic Youth Office for the Memphis area and part-time professor of Catholic High School for Boys in Memphis.

The Nashville diocese says it instituted its safe environment program and began conducting background checks in 1986. Since 2002, the diocese and its insurance company have spent approximately $6.5 million on counseling and pastoral assistance to victims of abuse.

The complete list can be seen here.