At first glance, this blog may seem to be about the Diocese of St. Augustine. But we at Horowitz Law are convinced that the inexcusable patterns and practices outlined here – revealed by church and law enforcement records – are typical of many of the Catholic Dioceses in the United States – both in the past and present.
So if you have no particular knowledge of clergy sex crimes and cover-ups in Florida, we still think it’s worth your while to keep reading. In fact, there’s so much awfulness in just one recent news report about the Diocese of St. Augustine hierarchy that it can’t be covered in just one blog post. So this is the first of two blogs on the subject
For starters, please read this short timeline. Then tell us, if you can, how St. Augustine Bishop Felipe Estevez can sleep at night.
Fr. William Malone abused several girls in the 1980s.
In 1991, parents told church bosses that he hurt their 11 year old daughter.
In 1992, Malone impregnated a “young parishioner.”
That same year he was quietly moved out of state.
By 1993, his supervisors agreed to pay child support.
A decade later, the same abuse victim reported again, in person, to anew bishop.
By then, the diocese had a ‘review board’ tasked with investigating such reports.
But Bishop Victor Galeone and his top aides refused to tell the board.
In 2018, a victim reported, for the third time, that Fr. Malone repeatedly abused her.
This time, finally, the review board began to investigate.
But the Bishop and his staff and his board waited FIVE MONTHS to tell police.
And in 2019, finally, Bishop Estevez told his flock about Fr. Malone’s crimes.
Not surprisingly, then a “deluge” of others came forward disclosing abuse by Fr. Malone.
How can these decades of irresponsible inaction be excused? And who knows how many other girls Fr. Malone assaulted between 1991 and 2013, when he died? How many of those young victims might have been spared debilitating pain had any of dozens of top church staff simply called 911?
The cover up, in fact, started right away. When the 1991 abuse report was made, church officials deemed it as “conjecture” and “not credible” because parents, not the victimized youngster, met with diocesan staff. (Their daughter didn’t want to talk with diocese officials.)
And another Malone victim reported her abuse in — “but was told she needed to meet with a diocese attorney and staff BY HERSELF to discuss the allegations.”
Could they make things any harder on victims?
Remember, this information comes entirely from written diocesan records and a law enforcement agency about just one of the thirteen proven, admitted and credibly accused Diocese of St. Augustine child molesting clerics the diocese finally posted because of pressure from parishioners and prosecutors.
For more information on these predators, see BishopAccountability.org
And for more on the continuing cover ups in St. Augustine, read our next blog.