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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

New clergy child sex abuse & cover up lawsuit filed

And victims urge archbishop to replace long key staffer

She’s the long-time head of the archdiocesan PR department

But she also heads the church’s “safe environment” program

Her two roles “inherently” conflict, independent support group contends

SNAP: “Vulnerable kids & wounded adults need a professional, not a PR person”

WHAT
Holding signs at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will
--disclose and discuss a new child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit against a prolific predator priest,
--urge Miami’s Catholic archbishop to replace the head of his child sex abuse program, and
--beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to call police officials, not church officials (especially in light of a devastating Philadelphia grand jury report last week).

WHEN
Today, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2:30 p.m.

WHERE
On the public sidewalk outside of the Miami archdiocese headquarters, 9401 Biscayne Blvd., in Miami

WHO
Two-three child sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAPnetwork.org) including a Chicago woman who is the organization’s long time president

DETAILS
SNAP has recently learned that long time Miami archdiocesan spokesperson Mary Ross Agosta also heads the church’s abuse department. According to the archdiocesan website, a second person in that department, Jan Rayburn, is a former “freelancer” with the archdiocesan communications department. SNAP says these roles conflict and these personnel choices show that Miami church hierarchy is more interested in “damage control” than in children’s safety. http://www.miamiarch.org/ip.asp?op=PGC_General

Last week, a Philadelphia grand jury wrote a scathing report that charged church abuse staffers “have divided loyalties” and “continues to engage in practices that mislead victims, that violate their trust, “hound” victims for statements to “use as ammunition to impeach” them, and “turn over” victims’ statements “to archdiocesan attorneys.” SNAP fears the same collusion may be happening in Miami. The group also suspects that fewer victims will come forward when they learn that the person overseeing abuse in the church also publicly defends accused wrongdoers in the news media and minimizes the alleged crimes.

SNAP is also disclosing a new child sex abuse and cove up lawsuit, filed today in Miami-Dade County Court. It charges that Fr. Neal Doherty repeatedly sexually assaulted a then eight year old boy starting around 1990. For the next three years, Doherty abused the boy “on more than 50 occasions” and “sexually abused other boys before, during, and after the time he abused” this boy, the suit says. The archdiocese “knew or should have known that Doherty was using his position as a priest to sexually abuse boys” but “took no action” to protect them.

In 1972, Doherty’s supervising priest told archdiocesan staffers that Doherty “legally adopted” a “young adolescent who often stays in his room overnight” with him. In 1979, church staff received a complaint that Doherty gave a 16 year old boy drugs and molested him while the boy was being treated in a mental hospital. After numerous other abuse reports, in 2004, the archdiocese let Doherty “voluntarily resign,” the suit says.

Miami church officials received multiple credible allegations of sexual abuse against Doherty dating back to the 1970s. Still, Doherty remained pastor of St. Vincent’s parish in Margate from 1995-96 and resigned in 2004.

Three months ago, Doherty was jailed for having violated conditions of his “pretrial-release." He was arrested in 2006 and charged with drugging young boys and then sexually assaulting them after they passed out.

Today’s civil suit charges that the archdiocese “has never sought to have (Doherty) defrocked and “stripped of the benefits of being a priest.” At least six civil lawsuits against him have been settled.

The victim, now in his 30s, is represented by Miami attorney Jeffrey Herman (305 931 2200, jherman@hermanlaw.com). Doherty has been represented b attorney David Bogenschutz.

According to a Boston-based research organization called BishopAccountability.org, there are 33 proven, admitted or credibly accused Miami archdiocesan predator priests.

CONTACT – Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP President 312 399 4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com

David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Executive Director 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com


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