New Suits Charging Sex Abuse Filed Against Ex-Priest
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MIAMI (CBS4) – Two new lawsuits have been filed against a retired South Florida priest accused of molesting young boys.
The suits, which name the Archdiocese of Miami, allege that Father Neil Doherty abused two boys between 1978 and 1990 at St. Mary’s Cathedral under the pretext of counseling them.
Doherty was a secular and religious counselor for troubled boys in the Archdiocese at that time.
“I was being told about God’s love and this is how God wants it cause this is what I was being told by him,” recalled Benjamin Fisher, an alleged victim named in the lawsuit.
Fisher now 49 years old said he was abused for five years starting at the age of 16. Back then he said he met Doherty when he was skateboarding on the front steps of the church. Inside he said he was subject to sexual abuse.
“Yes it did take place right here (pointing to St. Mary’s) downstairs there’s a secret passage right down there,” said Fisher. “It goes to where the priest get dressed.”
Fisher’s attorney would not let him explain what Doherty allegedly did to him. The lawsuit details some of it graphically.
It reads, “About a year after Doherty began abusing Benjamin, he manipulated Benjamin into obtaining Quaaludes for Doherty to use on other young victims, some of whom were also given drugs and alcohol by Doherty and then touched in a sexual manner in Benjamin’s presence.”
Doherty is currently in jail awaiting criminal charges on a similar case not related to Fisher. He was once awaiting trial at his apartment under house arrest. But he violated those terms and a judge sent him back to jail.
Fisher’s attorney, Jessica Arbour said neither of the boys now men listed in the lawsuits filed Thursday had reported the alleged crime to the police, prosecutors or the Archdiocese of Miami.
“What I’ve done is I kept it inside,” said Fisher. “I kept it a secret. It’s not easy to come out and do what I’m doing.”
Fisher and the other man who is not named in his lawsuit are each suing the Archdiocese of Miami for more than five million dollars.
The Archdiocese declined interview requests from CBS 4 News But released the following statement that reads in part:
“The Archdiocese of Miami’s policy on sexual abuse allegations is very clear: a report is made to the State Attorney’s office; our internal Archdiocesan Review Board reviews the allegation; and pastoral care and counseling are offered to any alleged victim.”
Doherty has been the subject of more than two dozen sexual abuse lawsuits. Doherty is accused of abusing young boys from the 1970s at a various parishes in South Florida through 2002 when the Archdiocese put him on administrative leave and he retired.
A spokeswoman for the Diocese said although Doherty is retired he is still technically a priest. However because of the allegations against him he is no longer allowed to lead mass or dress as a priest.