MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Archdiocese again finds itself the target of a child abuse lawsuit, this time involving an accused serial molester already being held in the Broward County jail in a criminal case.
According to CBS 4 news partner The Miami Herald, a lawsuit alleges Fr. Neil Doherty drugged and sexually molested Dennis Montero almost three decades ago as the priest “blessed him” and told the then 15-year-old “his job was to share God’s love.’’
“He drugged me repeatedly and raped me repeatedly. This guy is a monster,” Montero, 43, said Thursday. “I ended up punishing myself with drugs and alcohol to deal with the pain.’’
Doherty, 69, already named in more than two dozen sex-abuse lawsuits, is in jail awaiting trial on a charge of sexually assaulting a minor in Broward County.
Montero said he came forward after seeing Doherty on the television news accused in a separate child abuse case.
“I didn’t even know his last name; he was just Father Neil to me. And then I saw him on TV and found out about all the cases,’’ he said. “I didn’t think I had any legal recourse.’’
In response to the new lawsuit, the Archdiocese issued a statement explaining its policy on sexual abuse allegations, a process that includes a report made to the State Attorney’s office, an internal Archdiocesan Review Board review and pastoral care and counseling offered to any alleged victim.
“As always, the Catholic Church’s concerns are for the victims and a prevailing sense of justice and healing,’’ the statement reads. “Over these past ten years, the Archdiocese has been forthcoming and taken steps to keep children safe through training and background screenings of all its employees, volunteers, clergy and teachers.
The lawsuit outlines a pattern of sexual abuse and accuses the Archdiocese of systematically covering up the history and allegations against Doherty and failing to protect children.
For 18 months beginning sometime in 1984, Doherty allegedly prowled the Keystone Trailer Park in Miami, looking for young boys.
“Dennis was a troubled youth who would go to the trailer park to hang out with other boys and smoke marijuana,’’ according to the lawsuit.
They met at that trailer park where Doherty allegedly gave Montero wine that has been laced with drugs. Montero fell unconscious and when “Dennis awoke, he was naked with Father Doherty also naked sleeping next to him.’’
It was the first of many episodes with Montero and Doherty at the trailer park involving drugs, alcohol and sex, according to the lawsuit. The priest also gave him money and took nude photos of Montero.
Montero said he never recovered, was in and out of prison for 11 years and worked the occasional odd job. He now lives with his girl friend in Miami-Dade.
The lawsuit seeks compensation from the archdiocese in excess of $5 million.
Montero’s attorney Jeff Herman held a press conference on Thursday where Montero shared his story.
Hours before the afternoon press conference, The Archdiocese of Miami distributed a list of questions members of the media “should keep in mind.’’
The list of questions are centered around Herman, an attorney who specializes in sex abuse cases: Is the Archdiocese of Miami the only organization/person Mr. Jeffrey Herman sues; Who are the other people that Mr. Herman sues; Why doesn’t he hold press conferences for those people he is suing; Has Mr. Herman spoken with Fr. Doherty’s personal attorney; Does Mr. Herman know where Fr. Neil Doherty is right now?
“The questions are just food for thought. We are at a disadvantage because we don’t have the lawsuit in front of us. We would like to weigh in so we are suggesting the questions that I would think any journalist would ask,’’ said spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta. “We are not asking for anybody to be our voice.’’
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