Tag: Clergy Sex Abuse Attorney

Junior Augustin Deerfield Beach Preacher

A South Florida Preacher Charged With Sexual Battery of a Minor

A 34-year old South Florida preacher, Junior Augustin, has been charged with sexual battery and lewd and lascivious behavior of a minor. The criminal investigation began after a mother found sexually explicit messages and photos on her teen daughter’s cell phone from the preacher.  Augustin lives in Deerfield Beach and works at Solid Rock the Seventh Day Church, located at 3520 W Broward Blvd #215, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312.

According to the Broward County Sheriff’s office, on March 30, 2021, the Broward Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit detectives arrested the preacher on charges of sexual battery on a minor 16 or 17 years of age and sex offense of a victim over 12 and up to 15 years of age.  The victim, Augustin’s goddaughter, stayed at Augustin’s home to assist with babysitting his eight children (ages 2-10) while the preacher’s wife was in the hospital. The police report states that she stayed at his home all of January and February 2021. 

In March, the teen returned home, and her mother noticed her behavior seemed off, which made her mother suspicious, the Sheriff’s Office said. The teen’s mother took her daughter’s cellphone and saw sexually explicit photos and messages of her daughter and Junior Augustin expressing their love for each other sent in the Whatsapp and Telegram apps.

Augustin later admitted to the sexual acts and made a voluntary confession during two regularly recorded meetings at a his church. Detectives received the recordings of Junior Augustin’s confession. In the first recording, Augustin admits to receiving the nude pics and video or his god-daughter. The second meeting recording revealed that one morning he came home from work, got undressed and went to bed and left his bedroom door open. Augustin claims the victim entered his bedroom and initiated sexual activity with Junior who was asleep. Half asleep, Augustin says he believed that he was having sex with his wife. Once Augustin opened his eyes he says he realized that he was having sex the teen, not his wife. Augustin said he then pushed the girl away and told her not to tell her mother so she would not get in trouble. 

The preacher is now behind bars for sexually battering the 16-year-old girl on a $50,000 bond for each charge. The investigation is ongoing.

Sexual abuse by a member of the clergy is a breach of trust at the highest level. The lawyers at Horowitz Law have been representing survivors of clergy abuse for more than twenty years. In cases across the country and in almost every state, our lawyers advocate for sexual abuse victims by priests and other clergy. If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault at a church or other religious organization, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.

ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY

ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY

New Orleans sexual abuse attorneys

After 227 years of serving half a million New Orleans-area parishioners, the Archdiocese of New Orleans filed for bankruptcy on Friday, May 1, 2020.  Citing the increasing cost of clergy sex abuse lawsuits and the budget challenges of the coronavirus shutdown of church services, the Archdiocese joined an increasing number of dioceses seeking financial protection under Chapter 11. 

Archbishop Gregory Aymond said bankruptcy would give the church a chance to reorganize and be more efficient and effective. He admitted the church cannot afford the high cost of litigation of the increasing number of clergy sex abuse claims. 

All pending lawsuits and mediation requests from victims and survivors are expected to be suspended in state court, and then decided by a federal bankruptcy judge. The federal judge will appoint a trustee, form a committee of creditors and examine the archdiocese’s assets as well as its liabilities. Last year, The church disclosed that $8.5 million had been put aside for clergy abuse-related claims.

“The Archdiocese of New Orleans is solvent,” Aymond said. “We have money, but if this were to play itself out it would be very difficult to be able to do what we’re supposed to do.”

A statement released by The Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP) said declaring bankruptcy is less about protecting assets and more about protecting secrets.  The president of SNAP, Tim Lennon, said “Bankruptcy allows the church to control information and continue the cover up. (It) protects power and prestige of church hierarchy.”   

Horowitz Law represents survivors of sexual abuse by clergy of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.  Attorney Adam Horowitz said, “Bankruptcy is the latest ploy by the Catholic Church to reduce its legal exposure for covering up clergy sexual abuse nationwide.  In a bankruptcy proceeding the Church can also conceal evidence of its neglect in the handling of sexually abusive priests.”

The Roman Catholic Church is the world’s oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution. For years, church leaders have prioritized the wealth of the archdiocese over making its victims whole. Willfully keeping funds from sexual abuse victims is an outrage, immoral, and callously adds to the suffering these victims are forced to endure. 

Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims on behalf of children who were sexually abused by clergy of all religious denominations.  If you or someone you know was sexually abused by a clergy member or employee of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

D.C. COUNCIL MEMBER DAVID GROSSO ALLEGES HE WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED BY FORMER VIRGINIA CATHOLIC PRIEST

D.C. COUNCIL MEMBER DAVID GROSSO ALLEGES HE WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED BY FORMER VIRGINIA CATHOLIC PRIEST AS A CHILD

According to media reports, on Saturday, March 14, 2020, a former Catholic priest from northern Virginia was charged with the sexual abuse of a minor between 13 and 15 years old that occurred in 1985. The following Monday, D.C. Council member David Grosso said, “The minor he assaulted was me.”

“I am making this statement because I understand the tremendous burden that victims of sexual assault and abuse carry throughout their lives,” Grosso said. “As I did many years ago, we all must find the courage to come forward, tell our stories, and seek justice and accountability from the perpetrator, as well as the churches and other institutions that have hidden or excused their behavior.”

The councilman’s alleged abuser, Scott Asalone, 63, is the former rector of St Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Purcellville, Virginia. At the time of his arrest he was a management consultant and bookstore owner in Asbury Park, New Jersey. He will be extradited to Virginia to stand trial. 

According to records released by the Diocese of Arlington last year, Asalone is a former member of the Capuchin Friars order, and was removed from public ministry in 1993. He was dismissed from the Friars in 2007. His name is included in a list of all clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse in northern Virginia.

Asalone is the first person indicted as a result of an ongoing investigation by the Virginia Attorney General’s office and State Police into Catholic clergy abuse. The probe was initiated after the Pennsylvania attorney general uncovered hundreds of unprosecuted cases and more than 1,000 child victims in 2018.

“I know that stepping forward to share your experience can be difficult or scary but I want you to know that, even if it happened years ago, we will still take it seriously and make sure you get the help and support you need,” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement to the public.

In 2018, Mr. Grosso helped pass the Statute of Limitations Amendment Act, which took effect in May 2019. It opened a two-year window for child sexual abuse victims in the District of Columbia to file civil claims despite being prohibited under the previous three-year statute of limitations. A member of the city council since 2013, Grosso said the emotional turmoil caused by reopening the investigation into his childhood trauma greatly influenced his decision not to seek a third term. He said he is again in therapy and working towards recovery. 

Mr. Grosso said it was important to “get the message out that people should speak up and that there is a chance for justice to happen.”

Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims on behalf of children who were sexually abused by clergy of all religious denominations.  If you or someone you know was sexually abused by a clergy member of any religious faith, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Diocese of Richmond Has a Compensation Fund for Victims of Pedophile Priests

Diocese of Richmond establishes financial settlement program for pedophile priest victims

On Monday, February 17, 2020, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced the creation of the Independent Reconciliation Program (IRP) to compensate those who were sexually abused as minors by clergy. With more than 50 priests who are credibly accused of sexually abusing children, this is one of the steps Bishop Barry C. Knestout promised to take as the Diocese of Richmond broadens its healing ministry to assist victim survivors.

In a letter to his parishioners Bishop Knestout said, “One of my most important pastoral responsibilities is to reach out to victim survivors of clergy sexual abuse, and to be a resource for them on their paths of healing. This program – designed and managed by a nationally recognized and highly respected, independent claims administrator – gives victim survivors an opportunity to receive monetary payment in a manner that is compassionate.”

Similar programs in other dioceses throughout the country have been established in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, and Colorado.   The Diocese of Richmond program will be administered by BrownGreer, a Richmond-based settlement firm.  The firm will determine payout amounts to be offered to each victim.  Payments shall be made by the Diocese of Richmond.

Clergy sex abuse survivors who want to participate in the IRP, must initiate a claim by April 3, 2020 and file the claim by May 15, 2020. To qualify for compensation, victims must have been a minor when the abuse occurred. If an offer is made, the victim will have 60 days to decide whether to accept or reject it. If the settlement terms are accepted, then the victim agrees to forfeit their right to take legal action against the Diocese of Richmond. 

A leader of Virginia’s chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a group that advocates for abuse victims said, “Our concern from SNAP, as far as compensation programs go, is — yes — victims may get funds that they need, but information is not exposed,” Rebecca Ianni said. “They’ll lose their right to sue. They’ll lose their right to have their day in court.”

The Roman Catholic Church is the world’s oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution. Church leaders have prioritized the wealth and reputation of the church over making victims whole. Establishing a program that helps in the healing of child sexual abuse victims by pedophile priests is step in the right direction to get the help these survivors need.

Horowitz Law represents victims of child sexual abuse by clergy in the Diocese of Richmond.  If you or someone you know was sexually abused by a clergy member of the Diocese of Richmond, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Catholic Church Hides $2 Billion in Assets from Abuse Victim Settlements

Catholic Church Hides $2 Billion in Assets from Abuse Victim Settlements

According to Bloomberg Businessweek in January 2020, a review of court filings by lawyers representing churches and victims over the last 15 years has shown that the Catholic Church in the U.S. has moved around more than $2 billion in assets in an effort to prevent the money from going to alleged abuse victims. Throughout the country churches have been aggressively transferring and reclassifying assets, and filing for bankruptcy, as more victims of sexual abuse by priests have come forward and filed lawsuits.

From the early 1980s through 2002, church leaders paid out roughly $750 million according to BishopAccountability.org, a nonprofit that tracks clergy sex abuse. Since 2004, dioceses have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy more than 20 times. This has allowed the dioceses to reach universal settle­ments and protected them from additional victim claims. 

“The survivors should have gotten that money, and they didn’t,” says Terry McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org. “The Catholic Church has behaved like a business. It hasn’t behaved like a religion that lives by the rules it espouses.”

In 2007, then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, sent a letter to the Vatican requesting permission to move almost $57 million into a trust fund originally meant for maintaining cemeteries. The letter revealed that the purpose of the move was to shield the assets. 

“By transferring these assets to the Trust, I foresee an approved protection from any legal claim and liability,” Dolan wrote.

When the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015, it said it didn’t own the parishes, schools, or the 10 cemeteries within its territory. It claimed only $50 million in assets, while lawyers for victims estimated the archdiocese was worth about $1.7 billion. Ultimately, it reached the largest bankruptcy settlement by an archdiocese giving 450 people a total of $210 million, which averages to about $467,000 each. Some of the money came from church assets and some from insurance.

In New Mexico, to protect funds from settlements, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, has distanced itself from about $178 million since 2012. On average, an archdiocese in bankruptcy will settle with clergy abuse victims for about half the value of its estate. If the Santa Fe archdiocese settles for half the value of the $49 million it says it owns, the 375 victims will each get about $65,000, about one-fifth of the $300,000 they would get if the arch­diocese hadn’t taken $178 million off its ledger.

“The bankruptcy code should not be used to re-victimize victims,” said New Mexico attorney general Hector Balderas. “They are really just trying to shield assets.”

According to a 2018 study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, victims of childhood sexual abuse experience increased mental and physical health problems. Additionally, they receive lower earnings, with the cost to a victim of more than $280,000 over a lifetime.

“We realize that nothing can ever adequately compensate those who have been victims of this terrible crime,” Santa Fe Archbishop John C. Wester said in November, 2018. “Nonetheless, we seek to do all we can by way of publicly acknowledging their pain, offering apologies and providing financial compensation.”

The Roman Catholic Church is the world’s oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution. Church leaders have prioritized the wealth of the archdiocese over making victims whole. Moving around and hiding funds from sexual abuse victims is an outrage, immoral, and callously adds to the suffering these victims are forced to endure. 

Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims on behalf of children who were sexually abused by clergy of all religious denominations.  If you or someone you know was sexually abused by a clergy member of any religious faith, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

The Vatican Struggles To Keep Up With A Record Number of Sex-Abuse Cases Reported This Year

The Vatican Struggles To Keep Up With A Record Number of Sex Abuse Cases Reported in 2019

Late December 2019, the Associated Press reported that the Vatican office responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), has seen a record 1,000 cases reported from around the world this year. The CDF said there are four times more complaints this year than a decade ago, with many coming from countries that had no previous reported history of sexual abuse cases.

Monsignor John Kennedy said that he plans to expand his struggling, skeleton staff of 17 and add more people to help with the onslaught of cases.  “We’re effectively seeing a tsunami of cases at the moment, particularly from countries where we never heard from (before),” Kennedy said, referring to allegations of abuse that occurred years ago. 

For decades the United States has reported the most cases of clergy sex abuse. Now, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Italy and Poland are among the countries with the most cases being sent to the CDF. 

For nearly 20 years the CDF has processed 6,000 abuse cases. Pope Francis has said that it still had a backlog of 2,000. Now, the CDF must manage with the globalization of the sex abuse scandal.

Kennedy said the Vatican was committed to fighting clergy sex abuse and just needed more time to process the cases. “We’re going to look at it forensically and guarantee that the just outcome will be given,” he said.

In an attempt to streamline the project, the CDF is working on a database to access statistics from cases previously processed. It will also publish a guidebook for bishops and religious superiors to use so they can more efficiently process cases.

The role of priests in the church is to support the spiritual needs of their parishioners. Education, counseling, and guidance in times of need are responsibilities with which they are entrusted. A clergyman who sexually violates children has no place working in the Church. Any ministry in which such a crime is committed must take responsibility for failing to properly screen potential priests and protect their parishioners. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by a priest or other clergy, contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

New Poll Reveals American Catholics Displeased with Handling of the Sex Abuse Scandal

New Poll Reveals Catholics Displeased with Bishops’ Handling of Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal

EWTN News and RealClear Opinion Research partnered to conduct an in depth survey on Catholic voters’ attitudes prior to the 2020 election. When it came to the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the survey reveals that American Catholics are overwhelmingly displeased with the handling of the scandal by their local Bishops. Only 30% of Catholics approve of the Bishops’ handling of the scandal, compared to 55% who disapprove. Their view of the Pope’s handling of clergy sexual abuse was only slightly  better than their ranking of their own local Bishops. 44% of Catholics approve of the Pope’s handling of the crisis, while 41% say they disapprove.  This data reflects the vast amount of American Catholics who are angered by the sexual abuse crisis and the inability of Church leadership to address the problem and the spiritual needs of their parishioners. 

As the American Catholic landscape has evolved there has been a sweeping desire for modern reformation in the Church beyond just controlling the rampant sex abuse crisis. According to the poll, the majority of Catholic voters are in favor of allowing priests to marry (64% of all Catholic voters) and for women to be ordained as deacons (69% of all Catholic voters). 

“This data poll confirms the differences in ethnicity, age, and ideology within the Catholic community that make it such a pastoral challenge for bishops and such an electoral opportunity for politicians,” said John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University.

The role of pastors in the church is to support the spiritual needs of their parishioners. Education and often counseling and guidance in times of need are responsibilities with which they are entrusted. A trusted clergyman who sexually violates young children has no place working in the Church. Any ministry in which such a crime is committed must take responsibility for failing to properly screen potential priests and protect their parishioners. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by a priest or other clergy, contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Washington D.C. Priest Urbano Vazquez Sentenced to 15 Years for Sexually Abusing Girls

Washington D.C Priest Sentenced to 15 Years for Sexually Abusing Young Girls

Urbano Vazquez Horowitz Law

Washington D.C. Catholic priest Urbano Vazquez, age 47, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Friday, November 22 after he was found guilty of sexually abusing two young girls. In August of 2019, he was found guilty on one count of second-degree child sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl, and two counts of second-degree child sexual abuse and one count of misdemeanor sexual abuse of a child against a 9-year-old girl. Both girls were his parishioners. The crimes were committed between 2015 and 2017, while he was an assistant pastor at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart.  This parish belongs to the Archdiocese of Washington.  Vazquez is a priest from a Religious Order of Friars known as the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.

Vazquez groped the 13-year-old and kissed and groped the 9-year-old. He denied the charges and has maintained his innocence. Earlier in the week, he submitted a nine-page written letter to the judge asking for mercy at his sentencing saying he “was too busy to do a crazy thing.” He never mentioned his victims, or the crimes he was convicted of committing.

Both victims testified at the trial. The younger girl testified that her desire to be a nun died when Vazquez kissed her in 2016 and groped her “a lot of times,” including in the church’s sacristy.

Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Matt Williams wrote, in his own letter to the judge, that “each victim testified that when the defendant was touching them, he acted like there was nothing unusual or wrong with what was going on. He did not speak, did not apologize, and did not react.”

When Vazquez took the stand in his own defense and did not acknowledge his criminal behavior, Williams added, “he swore that the young girls whose lives he changed forever were liars. It takes a depraved — and dangerously manipulative — person to do that.”

Urbano Vazquez’s abuse of these children is a disgraceful example of abuse of power.  Unfortunately, all too often, we see men with depraved sexual interests, gravitate to the clergy and other professions where they will have opportunity and access to molest children.   The victims of this crime should be commended for having the courage to report these crimes and stand up to their perpetrator in Court and hold him accountable.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Washington. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by a priest or other clergy, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

John-Allen-Harrisburg-205x300 Horowitz Law

Former Priest John G. Allen of Diocese of Harrisburg Arrested on Sex Abuse Charges

John G. Allen, a 75 year old defrocked priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg, was arrested this morning on charges that he molested two altar boys between 1997 and 2002.  According to the criminal complaint, Allen abused the abused the victims while they served as altar boys at St. Margaret Mary’s Alacoque Church in Harrisburg.  Allen had been removed from the ministry by the Diocese of Harrisburg in 2002.  Allen was defrocked in 2006, four years after the Diocese received a “credible allegation” that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor in 1979.

John G. Allen served in multiple Diocese of Harrisburg parishes, including locations in Lebanon, Gettysburg, Selinsgrove, New Cumberland, Steelton, Lancaster and Harrisburg.  He is facing four counts of indecent assault and two counts of corruption of minors, according to the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office.   For a full profile on Father John G. Allen, see this link:

Profile on John G. Allen

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Harrisburg.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Harrisburg may have legal options against the Diocese of Harrisburg.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Diocese of Syracuse Program Sets May 16 Deadline for Abuse Victims to File Claims

Syracuse Bishop Robert Cunningham, announced Feb. 14, Ash Wednesday, that the diocese has established an Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

Victims of sexual abuse by clergyman of the Diocese shall have until May 16 to submit claims.  According to the Bishop, the compensation funds will be paid for through the Diocese’s general liability insurance program, not donations. Only people who submitted claims to the diocese before Feb. 14 are eligible. Participants will not be required to sign confidentiality agreements, but they must agree not to sue the Diocese or its staff.

Approximately 76 victims from cases dating to 1941 are eligible for compensation for “pain and suffering” at the hands of priests, Cunningham said at a press conference.  The diocese has previously settled 20 clergy sex abuse cases. According to public records, at least forty priests in the seven-county diocese have been accused since 1941. Of those, 18 are alive; they are considered credibly accused and have been removed from ministry.

This announcement by the Syracuse Diocese comes on the heels of similar announcements by other Dioceses in the state — New York CityBrooklyn and Rockville Centre — in implementing the Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program. The programs are run by Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, independent arbitrators from Washington, D.C. The pair has mediated compensation programs in cases including survivors of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the BP oil spill and the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida.

Sexual abuse attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in handling claims on behalf of victims of clergy sexual abuse throughout New York.  If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual abuse by any priest or clergymen affiliated with the Diocese of Syracuse, please e-mail attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100 to discuss your claim against the Diocese of Syracuse and learn if you are eligible for monetary compensation.   Attorney Adam Horowitz offers confidential, free evaluations of your sexual abuse claim involving priests and clergy of the Diocese of Syracuse.