- Victims’ group blasts Catholic archbishop on abuse
- Group says he must explain why he put predator back into parish”
- And they want priest sent to a remote treatment center right away
- SNAP asks “How many other Miami pedophiles are still on the job?”
- Group will distribute fliers about recently ousted child molesting cleric
Clergy sex abuse victims will hold two events in Miami today. Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, they will urge Miami’s Catholic archbishop to
--explain why he quietly suspended and re-assigned a controversial priest who has been sued at least four times for child sex abuse, and
--hold an open public meeting and take questions from parishioners at each church where the pedophile was assigned.
Then, two hours later, they will hand out fliers to neighbors near a parish where the predator used to work, urging other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to “come forward, get help, expose wrongdoing, call police, protect kids and start healing.”
Thursday, November 1
News conference at 11:00 a.m., leafleting at 1:00 p.m.
News conference: Outside the Archdiocesan headquarters (“chancery office”) at 9401 Biscayne Boulevard (corner of NE 8th St) in Miami Shores, FL
Leafleting: Outside the Garcia Church of the Little Flower at 1842 Buchanan St in Hollywood, FL
Two to three members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests including a St. Louis woman who is the organization’s Outreach Director
Last week, Miami Catholic Archbishop Thomas Wenski abruptly reversed himself and suspended Fr. Rolando Garcia from active parish ministry. Garcia has been sued four times for child sex crimes. (Two cases settled. Two others are pending.)
But Wenski has yet to adequately explain why he repeatedly endangered kids and violated the US bishops’ “one strike and you’re out” child sex abuse policy, by quietly suspending and re-assigning Garcia despite the allegations and lawsuits.
Now, SNAP wants Wenski to hold open public meetings at every church where Garcia worked, explaining his “reckless” decisions and urging others with information about the clerics’ crimes to step forward.
In 2007, Garcia was accused of abusing an 11-year-old boy while at St. John Bosco in the Miami neighborhood of Little Havana. That suit was settled out of court in September of 2009. The next allegation came in 2012, when Fr. Garcia was accused of abusing a young boy in the 1980’s while Garcia was attending Palm Beach Seminary. As a result of that allegation, Fr. Garcia was placed on administrative leave, but was returned to ministry ten days later after Archbishop Wenski said that Fr. Garcia took and passed a polygraph test.
Less than a month after Wenski returned Fr. Garcia to ministry, another allegation surfaced, this time accusing Fr. Garcia of abusing a then 16-year-old runaway in 1994 while he was assigned to Church of the Little Flower in Hollywood. A day after the lawsuit was publicly announced, Wenski decided to again remove Fr. Garcia from ministry.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are distributing fliers outside the Church of the Little Flower in Hollywood, warning parents and parishioners about Fr. Garcia. The fliers detail Fr. Garcia’s work history and urge the reader to “search within your community and congregation and make sure no others are suffering in silence.”
“Often times, victims are afraid to come forward, especially when the predator is still in ministry and appears to be protected by the diocese,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director. “We’re hoping that by reaching out to all of the people at this church, these victims or witnesses will find the courage to come forward.”
SNAP is also calling on Wenski to use all archdiocesan resources to find others with suspicions about or information about Fr. Garcia or any other priest who may have hurt kids.
Several of Garcia’s victims are represented by Miami attorney Jeff Herman.