Fr. Marvin Knighton – Diocese of Phoenix

| Jan 14, 2020 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Marvin Knighton

Diocese of Phoenix 

Ordained: 1975

Removed: 2011

Assigned as Follows: 

  • 1975-1976 St. Anne’s (Milwaukee, WI) 
  • 1976-1987 St. Pius X High School (Milwaukee, WI)
  • 1987-1988 Absent on Leave
  • 1988-1991 St. Pius High School (Milwaukee, WI)
  • 1992-1994 Mount Mary’s College (Milwaukee, WI)
  • 1994-1995 Absent on Leave 
  • 1995-1997 St. Martin de Porres (Milwaukee, WI) 
  • 1995-1997 All Saints (Milwaukee, WI)
  • 1998-2000 Dominican High School (Whitefish Bay, WI)
  • 2000-2001 St. Mary’s High School (Phoenix, AZ)
  • 2001-2002 Archdiocesan Office for Schools and Child Youth Ministry (Milwaukee, WI) 
  • 2002-2003 Absent on Leave

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Marvin Knighton: 

In 1993, a man had confronted Father Marvin Knighton, a priest from Milwaukee, with allegations that the priest sexually abused the man’s high school aged son from 1988 to 1989. Because Knighton reported the allegations to the Milwaukee Archdiocese himself, nothing was done because there was no “formal complaint” made by the victim or his family.  

Knighton remained in ministry in Wisconsin until a brief stint at a Phoenix area high school.  The reasons for the temporary re-assignment to a new Diocese are not clear, but they are definitely a “red flag” that would merit additional investigation in a lawsuit.  Additional “red flags” appear in his assignment history, including his time spent on leave. 

In 2002, the 1993 victim personally went to the Archdiocese and renewed the allegations against Knighton. Again, nothing was done.  However, after a second person alleged past sexual abuse by Knighton, the priest was removed from ministry and the information was forwarded to the District Attorney in Wisconsin.  Though he was charged criminally for abusing the boys, Knighton was eventually acquitted by a jury in 2003.

Despite the outcome in court, the Archdiocesan Review Board upheld the allegations and said there was “preponderance of evidence” that Knighton engaged in child sex abuse and indicated he would never return to public ministry.

In 2004, yet another person came forward with allegations against Marvin Knighton.

Knighton was laicized in 2011. At the time of his laicization, he claimed that the Milwaukee Diocese owed him $450,000 in past wages and benefits that should have been paid during his suspension.

He is believed to be residing in Phoenix, Arizona.  During the course of his ministry, and starting in 1988, Knighton adopted several boys and raised them as a single father and priest in active ministry. 

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