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Suit: Nun Fondled 1st Grader

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MIAMI (CBS4) – More allegations of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Miami.

On Wednesday the law firm of Herman, Mermelstein and Horowitz, which has sued the Archdiocese of Miami dozens of times in the past over the alleged actions of several priests, announced a new lawsuit against them concerning the actions of a nun.

“Statistically, most predators are men,” Attorney Jeff Herman said. “Here we have allegations that a nun sexually abused this man as a boy.”

According to their $5 million suit, Sister Joan Marie who taught at St James Catholic School in North Miami fondled and groped one of her first grade students twice a week during the 1978 to 1979 school year. The abuse only ended, according the lawsuit, when the boy’s parents moved over the summer. The victim’s attorney claims that Sister Joan Marie is a sexual predator who abused other children before, during, and after the alleged assault on the victim. However, the Herman was not able to produce any other allegations filed against her.

In addition to the Archdiocese of Miami, the suit also names Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Sister Joan Marie and the school.

the victim, who was not at Wednesday afternoon’s press conference,  issued a statement though his lawyers that read:

“I finally found the strength to tell what happened to me when my son was in first grade, the same age I was when I was abused. I cannot imagine him dealing with the same nightmare that has plagued me for so long.”

The law firm said they don’t know where Sister Joan Marie is or even if she is still alive.

In response to the suit, the Archdiocese of Miami issued the following statement:

“The Archdiocese of Miami was informed today by the media of a lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct against a Dominican Nun. The Archdiocese of Miami policy on sexual abuse is very clear: a report of these allegations is made to the State Attorney’s office; our internal Archdiocesan Review Board reviews the allegation; and pastoral care and counseling are offered to the alleged victim.

As always, the Catholic Church’s concerns are for the victims and a prevailing sense of justice. In addition, over these past nine years, the Archdiocese has been forthcoming and taken steps to keep children safe through training and background screenings of all its employees.”

Several other priests who taught at St. James in the 1970s have already been sued by the firm for alleged sexual misconduct.

The Archdiocese has 20 days to respond to the suit. after which it can negotiate a settlement or fight the charges in court.

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