FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Looking frail and seated before a judge, retired South Florida priest Neil Doherty pleaded no contest to six counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child.
During his time with the Archdiocese of Miami Doherty, 69, had served at several South Florida churches, including St. Vincent’s in Margate, St. Anthony in Fort Lauderdale and St. Phillip in Northwest Miami-Dade.
He’s accused of molesting and raping a boy at a Margate parish in 1990 and has been in jail since 2006.
“The defendant had him come in and do some version of confession,” said prosecutor Dennis Siegal. “The defendant then gave him a soft drink and he passed out.”
Doherty has a long list of accusers who say he used his position of power to drug and rape them when they were boys.
Some of the accusations date back to the 1970s, but came to light only in recent years.
“It just came time for the case to be concluded,” said Doherty’s attorney David Bogenschutz, “We have victims out there who were going to testify with similar evidence.”
In several cases, Doherty is accused of slipping drugs into drinks to make boys sleepy and molesting them while they were unconscious.
Attorney Jeffrey Herman has represented several of Doherty’s alleged victims and has filed a number of civil suits on their behalf.
“Hopefull this is the end of the reign of terror of Father Neil Doherty who preyed on young boys in Florida for decades,” said Herman.
Despite the many civil suits filed against him, this will be the first criminal punishment for Doherty as a result of the accusations. In most cases, criminal charges could not be filed because the statute of limitations had passed for alleged events.
Broward Circuit Judge Kenneth Gillespie has set sentencing for January 28th.