LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Roman Catholic Bishop J. Kendrick Williams resigned Tuesday amid accusations of sexual abuse, becoming the third U.S. bishop to step down in the scandal rocking the church.
In a statement, Williams, 65, denied abuse allegations brought against him by three plaintiffs.
"I do not want my resignation to give any credence to the allegations made against me," Williams said in a statement released by the Catholic Conference of Kentucky.
"I offered my resignation to the Holy Father, stating that I believe that by my stepping down the diocese can rid itself of the cloud which hangs over it and me at this time. I agonize that while this process continues, the diocese suffers without a leader."
The Vatican said Pope John Paul II accepted Williams' resignation, submitted under church law for "illness or some other grave reason."
Williams has been accused of abuse by three plaintiffs. He denied the charges and went on leave voluntarily under a diocesan policy that requires clergy to be removed from public duties while an accusation is pending.
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