Bishop Stika: Gone But Not Forgotten – Reportedly Threatening Priests

Though he hasn’t been employed by the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville for nearly a year, former Bishop Richard Stika continues to make his presence felt, contacting whistleblowers directly with threats of a lawsuit, including one who is a key witness in the sexual assault lawsuit against the church.

That lawsuit was filed by a former diocesan employee who alleges a former diocesan seminarian raped him and details how the diocese, led by Stika, interfered with the investigation and worked to discredit him. Knox News independently verified the interference, which led to the firing of an independent investigator.

As complaints about Stika’s leadership and handling of allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct piled up in the diocese, the bishop offered his resignation and it was accepted by Pope Francis in June 2023.

But Stika has continued to try to assert control over some of the priests in the Knoxville diocese. He sent a text message recently, for instance, to three priests, including the Rev. Brent Shelton, who left Knoxville in April 2023 after he was told he was being reassigned, a move church watchdogs viewed as retaliation.

Shelton recently filed a formal complaint against the diocese’s attorney with the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, which polices attorney conduct.

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