Denver Newsroom, Apr 28, 2022 / 16:58 pm
The Diocese of Knoxville allegedly mishandled a report that a priest sexually assaulted a parishioner who sought grief counseling in 2020, a lawsuit charges.
The lawsuit was filed against the Diocese of Knoxville and a Catholic priest on Jan. 31, 2022 in Sevier County Circuit Court in Tennessee. It seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees. The lawsuit alleges that the diocese’s actions inflicted emotional distress, and it was culpably negligent in hiring and supervising its employees.
According to the lawsuit, the alleged abuse was committed by Father Antony D. Punnackal. He was ordained a Carmelite priest in India, and later served in Vega, Texas before becoming pastor at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. He was suspended in January after a grand jury indicted him on one count of sexual battery and one count of sexual battery by an authority figure.
The lawsuit describes the alleged victim as a mother of three who had sought grief counseling from her parish church after the father of her third child was murdered.