Father Vijaya Bhaskar Godugunuru
Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee
- 2006: Blessed Trinity Parish (Bonifay, FL)
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Father Vijaya Bhaskar Godugunuru:
The Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee learned in 2006 that an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor had been made against Father Bhaskar. Bhaskar arrived in the US from India earlier that year from the Diocese of Cuddapah in India and was visiting friends in Bonifay, Florida. He was allowed to assist at Blessed Trinity Parish.
On July 13, 2006, Father Bhaskar was arrested by the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department on a charge of a second-degree felony of lewd and lascivious battery against a minor.
When the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee received information of the alleged abuse, Father Bhaskar was prohibited from exercising any ministry within the Diocese. The victim’s mother wrote to Pope Benedict XVI regarding the abuse but got no response.
In early 2007, Father Vijaya Bhaskar Godugunuru pleaded no contest to the aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, for assaulting a 15-year-old girl in Florida. As per the agreement, he was required to return to India, undergo counseling, and not have a leadership role over minors for a year. A civil lawsuit was filed against the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee in 2008. Father Bhaskar moved to Italy and was listed on the Diocese of Montepulicano-Chiusi-Pienza clergy roster as being at Nome di Maria in Querce al Pino, Italy. He is also named on Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee 2020 list of priests that have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor or minors. According to media reports, Bhaskar abandoned his duties at his new parish in central Italy in 2010.
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