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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Clergy sex abuse victim appeals to legislators

His case against charismatic priest is tossed out

New court ruling will prevent hundreds of other lawsuits

Decision "slams courthouse door" on most kids who were molested

Man was sexually assaulted by head of popular "Pedro Pan" program

WHAT
Holding childhood photos and signs at a sidewalk news conference, a clergy sex abuse victim will blast a harsh new appeals court ruling that
-- prevents him from getting justice against Catholic officials for the crimes he suffered as a child, and
-- makes it nearly impossible for those molested as kids to expose their predators in court.

He will also
-- beg Florida legislators to pass a law overturning the court's decision, and
-- beg others hurt by Pedro Pan employees and victims to come forward, call police, get help, and start healing

WHEN
Monday, Sept. 14, 1:30 p.m.

WHERE
On the sidewalk outside the Miami archdiocese chancery office, 9401 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami Shores, FL (305-762-1101)

WHO
A Puerto Rico man who is speaking publicly for the first time about his childhood victimization at the hands of a high-profile Catholic priest and whose lawsuit against the Miami Catholic archdiocese was recently rejected by a court on an unusual legal technicality. He'll be accompanied by his attorneys.

WHY
A few weeks ago, the Florida Appellate Court ruled against Robert Rodriguez in his civil child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit against Msgr. Bryan O. Walsh and the Miami Catholic archdiocese.

Walsh was once the Director of Resettlement for the archdiocese. Such suits can only be filed against the individual predator, not his/her supervisors, the court determined.

The crimes took place in the early 1960s when Rodriguez was brought to the US from Cuba as part of the archdiocese's Pedro Pan program, which has been called "one of the world's largest political exoduses of children in history." Between 1960 and 1962 more than 14,000 unaccompanied kidrs were sent out of Cuba by desperate parents who feared for their children's future under Castro.

The new ruling reverses/contradicts a 2001 Florida Supreme Court finding (and subsequent rulings by other judges across the state) that lets victims sue both predators and their employers if the employers negligently caused or intentionally enabled the abuse. It essentially removes incentives for employers to work to prevent child sex crimes or respond appropriately when such crimes are reported.

The decision cannot be appealed to the Florida or US Supreme Court, so the only effective remedy would be a new law that would enable child sex victims to hold reckless or deceitful employers accountable for felonies committed by their employees.

At least two other archdiocesan priests who worked in the Pedro Pan program have been sued for molesting kids. They are Fr. Neil Fleming and Fr. Joaquin Guerrero. Rodriguez will also publicly urge anyone who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by adults in the Pedro Pan program to come forward, get help, call police and start healing.

Rodriguez will also urge Florida legislators to pass “window" law, which would let child sex abuse victims expose predators in civil courts no matter when they were abused. Similar reform legislation in California and Delaware led to more than 1,000 victims coming forward and hundreds of pedophiles being "outed" and removed from positions of access to kids. Such laws also prod employers to work harder to stop abuse from happening in schools, churches, camps and day care centers, and to suspend credibly accused predators quickly.

Rodriguez, now in his 50s, filed his lawsuit in July 2005. Walsh is now deceased. He was also pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul in Miami.

CONTACT
Attorney Ronald P. Weil, Esq. of Miami (305) 372-5352 office


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org