Lawsuit Against Archdiocese Of Miami For Child Sexual Abuse
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A child sexual abuse case has been filed in Miami-Dade County against the Archdiocese of Miami. The lawsuit was filed Thursday morning by John Doe No. 94.
The lawsuit states in the early 1980s, the Archdiocese of Miami became aware of a child sexual abuse allegation against Father Rolando Garcia but concealed the allegation. Fr. Garcia later went on to sexually abuse John Doe No. 94, during the 1980s, which continued for 18 months, according to the lawsuit.
In 2007, Fr. Garcia was also accused in another lawsuit of sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy, John Doe No. 32, in 1989 at St. John Bosco Church in Little Havana. Garcia allegedly gave the victim, who was an altar boy, gifts and money, and then abused him after gaining his trust.
“Kiss me, abuse me, touch me,” described the alleged victim, who did not want to be identified. “It’s like a nightmare!”
He told CBS4 News he was sexually abused as a child multiple times by Father Rolando Garcia, a Catholic priest with the Archdiocese of Miami.
“I’d like him to be out of the church and not working with kids no more, not trusting him no more,” said the alleged victim. “I know in the bottom of my heart I know what he did to me, and I’m pissed what he did to me!”
The alleged victim and his attorney, Jeffrey Herman of Herman Mermelstein & Horowitz, say there have been at least two other allegations of Garcia sexually abusing children.
They have now filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese seeking more than five million dollars in compensation .
“Why now? Because I have kids, and I don’t want nobody to touch my kids!” said the alleged victim.
The alleged victim says he met Father Garcia about 30 years ago through a Cuban refugee outreach program, while Garcia was studying to become a priest.
He says shortly after meeting, Garcia molested him inside a private room at the St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.
“He took me for the first time and kissed me on my lips, touched me and felt me, made me sleep with no clothes because he said there was no air condition in there,” recalled the alleged victim.
Fr. Garcia remains an active priest in the Archdiocese of Miami and is currently Pastor of St. Agatha Catholic Church in Miami.
The Archdiocese of Miami was informed in mid-August of the lawsuit John Doe No. 94 was planning to file.
“Upon learning of this allegation, Fr. Garcia immediately and voluntarily took a polygraph test which he passed,” according to a statement released by the Archdiocese of Miami. “The Safe Environment Policy of the Archdiocese of Miami was followed, including reporting this allegation to the local state attorney’s office. Archbishop Thomas Wenski has made no changes to the status of Fr. Garcia.”
Following is the statement that Fr. Garcia read at each Mass at his parish the weekend of August 24-25, 2012.
“It is my duty to inform you of the following: Recently the Archdiocese of Miami made me aware of an accusation of sexual abuse on a minor that supposedly, according to the accuser, happened around 30 years ago. I adamantly deny these charges, which I strongly believe, were maliciously fabricated. Needless to say, I am totally innocent of this allegation.
To assist in seeking the truth, I willingly and voluntarily participated in a lie detector test (polygraph). The outcome of the test was that I am telling the truth, which supports my innocence of such allegation.
The Archdiocese’s safe environment policies and procedures were followed, and as I continue as your Pastor, please keep me in your prayers.”