Tag: Florida clergy sexual abuse

Florida Attorney General Horowitz Law

Where is the Florida Attorney General’s Report on Clergy Sexual Abuse?

In October 2018, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that her office was opening a comprehensive investigation into allegations that Florida’s seven Catholic dioceses had engaged in a widespread coverup of sexual abuse allegations involving priests.  Bondi’s announcement followed the release of the landmark Pennsylvania Attorney General’s report into five Catholic dioceses, which resulted in the disclosure that more than 300 Catholic priests had been accused of sexual abuse there. Other states’ Attorneys General have since released similar reports.

The Florida investigation is particularly important because Florida became a dumping ground for problem priests for several decades as the Florida Catholic community grew and bishops up north wanted to get rid of older priests who had been the subject of allegations.  A flock of unsuspecting parishioners has long been tended to by wolves with collars, and usually with little to no warnings to the faithful about the risks to their children.

“Any priest that would exploit a position of power and trust to abuse a child is a disgrace to the church and a threat to society,” Bondi said in her October 2018 press conference.  We could not agree more.

But where is the Florida Attorney General’s report?  It is now nearly two years since the investigation was opened and survivors and the Catholic faithful have no more answers than they did in 2018.

Earlier this week, the Twitter account of the SNAP Florida organization, which is dedicated to the advocacy and support of survivors of clergy sexual abuse, quoted an official in the AG’s office, Rita Pavan Peters.  According to the Tweet, Ms. Pavan Peters stated “[w]e’re in the final stages of our review.  I anticipate information being released in the near future.”

As advocates and attorneys for clergy sexual abuse victims in Florida, we implore our colleagues in the Attorney General’s office to complete their investigation and publish their findings.  Our attorneys have been involved in clergy sexual abuse cases in Florida for decades, and we know it is no small task to review the endless evidence of hurt kids and coverups, but enough is enough.  Survivors deserve to see the truth they all know in black and white.

We hope that the information on the SNAP Twitter account is accurate and that we will see this report very soon.  We hope that the report is transparent and complete.  And we sincerely hope that it leads to a revolution of Florida laws that currently close the courthouse doors to most survivors of sexual abuse because they did not come forward in their twenties, when the average age to report sexual abuse for the first time is 52.  Florida’s clergy sexual abuse survivors deserve accountability and healing.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Catholic Dioceses of Florida.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Florida, contact our office today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Florida and nationwide. We can help. Contact us at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.

 

Florida Catholic Bishops sexual abuse

Catholic Bishops Promised Transparency, But Apparently Not in Florida

We love our home state but have to ask: What’s wrong with Florida?

We just blogged about how Florida’s Attorney General is – to put it kindly – ‘behind the curve’ on releasing information about Catholic wrongdoers, both offenders and ‘enablers.’

Now, a new investigation confirms what we at Horowitz Law have long said: Florida’s bishops are also ‘behind the curve’ in disclosing what they know about their staff and colleagues who assault kids and hide the crimes.

Here’s the take-away: Five of seven dioceses in Florida, home to many millions of Catholics, STILL have not released names of credibly accused child molesting clerics.  (Most bishops across the US have done so, about 170 of them, have done this already, some as far back as 2002.)

https://www.propublica.org/article/catholic-leaders-promised-transparency-about-child-abuse-they-havent-delivered

What’s the excuse from Florida’s bishops?

Essentially, they’re saying “Well, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is investigating us, so we’ll sit tight for now.”  That might be acceptable in lots of other contexts. But remember: we’re talking about clerics who commit and conceal heinous crimes against children. Many of those clerics are still alive. Some, maybe most, have never been identified publicly (much less , much less criminally charged or convicted).

So there’s a very real and very urgent need to, at the very least, immediately reveal the names of the living priests who are ‘credibly accused’ of assaulting kids.  Every day a predator enjoys secrecy, he or she has a much better chance of being able to assault someone else. It’s little consolation, of course, but Pro Publica’s report shows that partial, deceptive and self-serving disclosures are happening all across the country.

–The Boston Archdiocese, for instance lists 171 ‘credibly accused’ clerics. But a far more impartial source, BishopAccountability.org, lists 279, including dozens of religious order priests omitted from the official archdiocesan list.

–The Rockville Centre diocese, home of 1.5 million Catholics (and one of the nation’s most scandal-ridden dioceses) still has listed no names whatsoever.

–Roughly 90% of all bishops refuse to reveal how many victims each of their predator priests has hurt.

Back to Florida’s bishops. A note of irony: These prelates are lobbying for a bill in Tallahassee to restrict payday lending, also called “predatory lending.”

https://flaccb.org/news/predatory-lending-bill-passes-senate-committee

That’s a noble cause, of course. But they should keep their eyes on the prize

Florida’s Clergy Abuse Victims Deserve Answers From Attorney General

Florida Attorney General Sexual Abuse

In July 2018, Pennsylvania’s attorney general released a stunning report about clergy sexual abuse in that state. It generated lots of attention and media coverage.  The next morning, Florida’s then-attorney general said that she ordered a similar statewide inquiry here in the Sunshine State.

https://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2018/10/05/florida-ag-pam-bondi-launches-statewide-investigation-into-sexual-abuse-by-priests

That was 18 months ago.

What progress has been made here? No one knows.

Last June, Florida’s current attorney general was asked that question. Her spokesperson said, “As this investigation is ongoing, we cannot comment further at this time.”

https://www.nbc-2.com/story/40628798/florida-catholic-church-sex-abuse-investigation-shrouded-in-secrecy

Huh?

We get that some secrecy is critical when law enforcement goes after potential criminals. But both of our AG’s (Pam Biondi, who started this probe, nor Ashley Moody, who heads it now) have been extraordinarily (and we believe irresponsibly) silent about the status of their investigation.

Neither have told Floridians anything that might help them protect themselves and their families from Catholic child molesters.

Fortunately, there’s more disclosure elsewhere.

In recent months, several state officials across the US have released reports about clergy sex crimes and cover ups.

–In Colorado, they disclosed that 97 of the 166 victims in the state were sexually abused “after the Colorado dioceses were on notice that the priests were child sex abusers.” They also broke down the abusers by dioceses (22 in Denver, 19 in Pueblo and 2 in Colorado Springs).

https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/colorado-releases-new-report-catholic-sex-abuse-state

–In Kansas, they revealed that 119 victims have contacted them “related to recent or past sexual abuse committed by clergy members” and state agents “have initiated 74 investigations in 33 different Kansas counties.”

http://www.accesskansas.org/kbi/docs/media%20releases/Media%20Release%20-%20KBI%20updates%20on%20progress%20of%20clergy%20abuse%20investigation.pdf

–In Illinois, they revealed that bishops are STILL hiding the names of more than 500 clergy accused of abuse and “have deemed 26% (of all abuse reports) as ‘credible’, meaning 74% of the allegations were either not investigated, or were investigated but not (deemed) ‘substantiated.’”

http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/pressroom/2018_12/Catholic_Church_Preliminary_FindingsUpdate121918.pdf

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-met-illinois-attorney-general-catholic-priest-abuse-20181219-story.html

Thank heavens at least SOME public officials are giving some crucial facts to those who elected them.

This information helps kids to be safer, parents to be vigilant, Catholics to be skeptical and employers to do more to avoid and oust predators. (For example, surely at least some headhunters, recruiters and human resources personnel in Illinois saw news coverage of these 500 accused but ‘under the radar’ clerics and are digging deeper into the past of former Catholic clerics who apply for jobs at their firms.)

Other attorneys general have gone further, not just giving information but taking action:

–Missouri’s AG referred 12 priests to local prosecutors that he believes could be pursued (despite the state’s dreadfully restrictive statute of limitations).

https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/missouri-ag-to-refer-cases-of-catholic-clergy-sex-abuse/article_3f234064-f8b6-52f8-81b0-c1b8a152021a.html

–Michigan’s AG has charged at least 7 priests (after having gotten 641 tips on her clergy abuse hotline, heard from 552 victims identified 270 alleged priest offenders, and seized 1.5 million paper documents and 3.5 million electronic documents – which were reviewed by 32 volunteers who put in over 1,400 hours at night and on weekends, according to the Detroit News).

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/12/23/michigan-nessel-clergy-abuse-probe/2737645001/

So again, what’s up here in the Sunshine State?

Many are accustomed to officials in private institutions who refuse to be open about child sex abuse. But it’s harder to understand and accept PUBLICLY-elected officials in PUBLIC institutions, spending PUBLIC money who refuse to be open about child sex abuse.

Nicholas McLoughlin Horowitz Law

Lawsuit Filed Against Diocese of Venice for Alleged Sexual Assault by Father Nicholas McLoughlin

Horowitz Law has filed a lawsuit in Sarasota County on behalf of an adult female client alleging that she was sexually assaulted in April 2018 by Diocese of Venice priest Nicholas McLoughlin in the confessional at Our Lady of Grace in Avon Park, Florida.  McLoughlin, known to parishioners as “Father Nick”, was the Pastor at Our Lady of Grace at the time of the alleged incident.

According to the Complaint, at the start of confession, Father McLoughlin abruptly stood up, approached the parishioner and reached out to touch her.  As he reached out to touch her, she thought that Father McLoughlin was going to make the sign of the cross on her forehead.  Much to her surprise and dismay, Father McLoughlin proceeded to forcefully grope L.B.’s right breast and aggressively kiss her.  She yelled at Father McLoughlin to stop and she struggled to break away from his power grip.

This is not the first time that Father Nicholas McLoughlin has been accused of sexual misconduct.  In November 2018, the Diocese of Venice announced that McLoughlin was being placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into a complaint alleging that he molested a child at Corpus Christi Parish in Temple Terrace, Florida in the 1970’s.  At that time, McLoughlin would have been under the supervision of the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

Additionally, in 1997, McLoughlin was named as a co-defendant in a lawsuit, in which the Catholic Diocese of Venice agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a suit with a former Port Charlotte altar boy who was molested by Nicholas McLoughlin’s brother, Ed McLoughlin, then assistant pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church where Nicholas McLoughlin was pastor at the time.  The choir director was also accused of molestation.

Nicholas McLoughlin served as pastor of Corpus Christi Parish, Temple Terrace from 1973 to 1982. He previously served as associate pastor of St. John Vianney, St. Pete Beach and pastor of Bishop Barry and Notre Dame High Schools in St. Petersburg from June 1972 to August 1973.  He was appointed Pastor of Our Lady of Grace in March 2007.

Horowitz Law files civil lawsuits representing children and adults who were victims of sexual abuse by priests, ministers, rabbis, deacons, nuns, or other clergy of any faith. 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 a confidential email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com