The trial for a priest accused of raping his goddaughter and parishioner has started this week. Fr. Jean Claude Philippe is charged with sexual battery of a helpless victim after he allegedly drugged and assaulted the victim.
Detectives say Fr. Philippe partially confessed to raping the victim when they approached him months after the event took place. Shortly after his arrest, the Archdiocese of Miami released a statement, announcing his suspension.
“Effective immediately, Archbishop Thomas Wenski has removed Fr. Philippe from Sacred Heart Catholic Church, placing him on administrative leave,” the statement reads. “The Archdiocese of Miami continues to fully cooperate with law enforcement as this allegation against Father Jean-Philippe continues to be investigated.”
Details About the Alleged Abuse
On October 30, the victim took the stand and told jurors that three years prior, Fr. Jean Claude Philippe invited her over to his home on church grounds to receive some gifts he got for her. In the kitchen, the victim says Fr. Jean-Philippe gave her some tea and she passed out.
Two hours later, she says she woke up naked in Fr. Philippe’s bed as the priest stood over her––wearing nothing but his underwear. The priest reportedly tried to embrace her, saying “everything was okay” and “that nothing happened.”
Despite the odor of bodily fluids, the victim says Fr. Philippe says he only massaged her. The victim subsequently went to a senior Sacred Heart clergyman to report the incident, and she says the clergyman told her “she was touched by God” before asking her to “keep her mouth shut.”
The victim says she kept the incident a secret for months. It wasn’t until she went on a spiritual retreat did she disclose the incident with another priest, who urged her to report it to the police.
The police subsequently started an investigation into the matter. Detectives wired the victim, and when she talked with Fr. Jean Claude Philippe about what happened, he said that he masturbated but “never penetrated her.”
When the detectives detained Fr. Philippe, he denied the incident until they asked for his DNA. He then explained how his DNA could be found in her, saying that she forced him inside her during the massage.
The trial, which takes place in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, is expected to last all week. Fr. Jean Claude Philippe will testify in his defense.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Miami in Florida. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused in the Archdiocese of Miami, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Miami now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Florida and nationwide. We can help.