The Rev. Ed Bradley said Monday he feels he has been vindicated by prosecutors' decision to not pursue criminal charges against him over allegations of sexual abuse involving juveniles.
Bradley called the allegations that he had sexually abused juveniles while he was an administrator at Owensboro Catholic High School "totally false."
"I was surprised when the article was in the paper" when it was announced in March that he had been suspended while the allegations were investigated, he said. "... I can remember saying to someone at the time, 'these accusations are totally false.'
"People who really know me knew that wasn't true," Bradley said.
The incidents were alleged to have occurred in the 1980s. The Diocese of Owensboro recommended in May that Bradley by permanently suspended from active ministry.
The Diocesan Review Board recommended to the Most Rev. William Medley, bishop of the diocese of Owensboro, that the two allegations it reviewed be "deemed substantiated." The diocese sent the matter to the Vatican to consider permanently suspending Bradley.
Bradley said Monday he voluntarily underwent a polygraph examination conducted by a private investigative agency in May. The test, he said, found he had not lied when the examiner asked him if he had ever touched a student for sexual gratification or pleasure.
Of his decision to take the polygraph, Bradley said, "I just had to know that someone believed me."
The Diocesan Review Board conducted its review and the matter was turned over to the Owensboro Police Department. On Friday, Commonwealth's Attorney Bruce Kuegel released a statement saying: "It was determined the allegations of criminal contact were not supported by evidence.
"Additionally, even if the evidence supported the allegations, the charges would be misdemeanors and prosecution would be barred by the one-year statute of limitations."
When asked why the Diocesan Review Board had deemed the allegations substantiated and recommended he be permanently suspended from public ministry, Bradley said Medley "is not going to error on the side of mercy" when handling allegations of sexual abuse.
Medley is out of town for the week, and Diocese spokeswoman Tina Kasey is also on vacation. A call to Chancellor Tom Lilly's office was not returned Monday.
Bradley said he was already retired at the time the allegations were made although he had been working part-time as a volunteer chaplain at OCHS.
In addition to his time as principal at Owensboro Catholic in the 1980s, he was a priest at OCHS from 1989 to 1995. Bradley was pastor at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Henderson from 1995 to 2011.
Bradley went back to OCHS to become a volunteer chaplain at the high school in 2011 after his retirement. Bradley has also been the team chaplain for the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville men's basketball teams.
Bradley said he knows the identity of one of the former students who brought the allegations.
"I don't want to guess at their motivation," Bradley said. "I just really don't want to say anything. I just want this to be over."
The Vatican's process on whether to remove Bradley from public ministry is being conducted by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Bradley, who is retired, said he is being kept informed on the ongoing process.
"My overriding emotion now is a sense of relief that I am vindicated," he said. "The charges were ridiculous."
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @JamesMayse