Sunday, June 30, 2002

Lawsuit against priest dismissed

Rev. Bill Fedders taught at three schools in N.Ky.

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — A man's lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by a priest at Cathedral of Christ the King has been dismissed in Fayette County Circuit Court.

        Lexington resident Will L. McGinnis III, who claims he was abused in 1983 by the Rev. Bill Fedders, said he will appeal the ruling.

        Judge Thomas Clark said Friday that there was not enough proof to overrule the statute of limitations — normally five years — and allow the case to be heard.

        Father Fedders, now pastor at Jesus Our Savior Catholic Church in Morehead, Ky., had served for 15 years in Northern Kentucky and taught at three Catholic schools in the area.

        Supporters of Father Fedders said in early June when the suit was filed that he is a respected pastor and educator and hoped he would be exonerated.

        Father Fedders has worked 34 years in the Roman Catholic dioceses of Covington and Lexington.

        He celebrated Mass and counseled people in at least three Northern Kentucky parishes, and taught at Bishop Brossart, Covington Catholic and the former St. Thomas High School between 1968 and 1981.

        He also supported youth sports, Covington diocese parishioners and school officials said.

        The suit filed June 3 in Fayette Circuit Court by Will L. McGinnis III, 33, of Lexington, alleged that Father Fedders abused him when he served as a priest at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Lexington in 1983.

        Mr. McGinnis, who is acting as his own attorney, said in his suit that Father Fedders sexually abused him three times in his eighth-grade year and the summer before ninth grade.

        Mr. McGinnis, a Lexington real estate broker, former mayoral and Democratic congressional candidate, and former stripper for a strip-o-gram service, said that he was a 14-year-old altar boy when the abuse occurred.

        Jack Kennevan, the six-year principal of Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, said he had no comment on the allegations in the lawsuit when it was filed.

        However, he added, “I have met the man, and he's a good, wholesome man. He has been nothing but a source of support and inspiration for Covington Catholic High School....

        “He has carried out his priestly duties in exemplary fashion, and I am shocked that he is so accused,” Mr. Kennevan said.

        “I am quite hopeful that, like Archbishop (Joseph) Bernardin, that Father Fedders will be vindicated,” Mr. Kennevan said, referring to the nationally known case in which sexual abuse allegations were found to be false and recanted.

       Enquirer staffer Cindy Schroeder contributed.



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