FL--Victims prod bishop to act re soon-to-be-freed predator

For immediate release: Wednesday, April 28

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected], [email protected])

A convicted child predator, church volunteer and Eucharistic minister is due to be released from prison early next month. For the safety of children, Fort Myers area Catholic officials must take steps to warn parents and parishioners about him.


Robert Little was a church volunteer at St. Francis Xavier Church when he abused a 13 year old boy he met through the church. And in 2013, he was convicted for it. On or around May 5, he will be set free.

Venice diocesan officials have acted irresponsibly with Little.

-- According to two lawsuits, Catholic officials were told about other allegations of abuse committed by Little, but covered it up. That irresponsible behavior reportedly led to other children being abused. (The first civil suit was filed in September 2014 and involves the victim whose sexual battery in 2013 led to the conviction. The second lawsuit was filed in December 2014 and involves an assault in 2011.  After that 2011 assault, that boy’s parents reported his assault by Little to church officials. The church officials’ refusal to act resulted in the 2013 abuse.)

--In February 2014, a Ft. Myers television station disclosed that Little was living on church property, despite two child sex abuse cases against him. Venice diocese officials refused to order him to move. Later, church officials reversed their decision. http://www.jrn.com/fox4now/news/Accused-molester-leaves-church-after-FOX4-exposes-him-244464101.html

-- In a police report, Little admits that he has a history of sexual interest in pre-pubescent boys and acted on those desires before.  He also says he joined a Catholic religious order to reduce his temptation. (For a copy, please contact Barbara Dorris 314 503 0003, [email protected])

We’re afraid Little may assault more kids. And we’re afraid local Catholic officials will wash their hands of him and do little or nothing to spread the word about his crimes.

Venice Bishop Frank Dewane (941-484-9543, information@dioceseofvenice.org) should visit every parish where Little ever worked or attended, imploring anyone with information or suspicions about the predator priest to call law enforcement.

Dewane’s top priority should be to protect vulnerable kids who Little may assault in the future.

Dewane (or his predecessors and colleagues) recruited, educated, trained, transferred and shielded Little, repeatedly giving him access to hundreds of kids. So Dewane can’t wash his hands now and pretend to have no responsibility for or power over this child molester or this troubling situation.

Dewane can and should use pulpit announcements, church bulletins and parish websites to beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered Little’s crimes to call police. He should send mailings to former church members and staff who may have spent time around Little, urging them to do the same. He should get out from behind his desk, shove his public relations staff aside, and personally hold a news conference pleading with parishioners and the public to step forward if they might, in any way, be able to help police and prosecutors file more charges against this dangerous man.

In short, Dewane should stop acting like a cold-hearted CEO and start acting like a compassionate shepherd.

Our hearts ache for every single person who was hurt by Little. Our hearts also ache for every single child sex abuse victim in Florida who never saw their perpetrators jailed or exposed because of the state’s archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations.

We hope this distressing news will encourage other who were hurt – by Little or others in the Venice diocese - to come forward, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids, and start healing.

The publicly accused Venice diocesan predator priests are: Fr. Thomas M. Anglim, Fr. Donald Baier, Fr. Carl Bartholomew, Fr. George Brennan, Fr. Charles Michael Cikovic, Fr. Neil Flemming, Fr. Jean Ronald Joseph, Fr. Edward McLoughlin and Fr. William Romero. (See BishopAccountability.org)

(Both civil cases involving Little are pending in Lee County Circuit Court in Fort Myers. The victims are represented by Ft. Lauderdale attorney Adam Horowitz 800-400-1098, [email protected].)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact - David Clohessy 314-566-9790, [email protected], Barbara Dorris 314-503-0003, [email protected], Barbara Blaine 312-399-4747, [email protected]

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