Lawsuit: Knoxville diocese mishandled sex abuse claim

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A lawsuit says the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville mishandled a report about allegations that a priest sexually abused a parishioner.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported the lawsuit filed in Sevier County says Father Antony D. Punnackal locked an adult female plaintiff in a room on Feb. 17, 2020, and fondled her.

The complaint says police allegedly informed the diocese about the allegations against Punnackal before he was indicted by a grand jury, but no action was taken until the indictment.

Records included with the lawsuit say Punnackal was indicted in January on charges of sexual battery.

The diocese declined to comment and Punnackal has denied the allegations in court records.

(For copyright information, check with the distributor of this item, Knoxville News Sentinel.)

Categories: Regional News