Assignment History– Rev. William Authenrieth
Summary of Case: William Authenrieth was ordained for the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1962. He was an associate priest at St. Vincent Ferrer until 1973, when he moved to the Diocese of Orlando, Florida.
Authenrieth's time in Florida was marked by numerous transfers, due to allegations that he had sexually abused children. In 1978, after a parishioner at All Souls in Sanford reported to the diocese that Authenrieth had touched his son's genitals, the priest was quietly moved to St. Mary's in Rockledge. In 1983 a St. Mary's parishioner told its pastor that his three young altar-boy sons had been fondled and sodomized by Authenrieth. The pastor told the parishioner to pray, and nothing was done. The family later sued. A fourth young man alleging abuse by the priest at St. Mary's during the same time-period also sued in the mid-1980s. Authenrieth admitted to fondling the four boys, and the cases were settled. In a deposition related to the litigation, Authenrieth stated that he had brought more than one-hundred men to St. Mary's for sex. He also testified that his reason for leaving Brooklyn was that a young male parishioner, "about 18", threatened to reveal that the two of them had engaged in sex. In October 1985 Authenrieth was removed from ministry and sent to the House of Affirmation in Massachusetts for treatment.
A 2002 lawsuit claimed that Authenrieth had sexually abused a boy in the parish rectory during his time at St. Vincent Ferrer's in Brooklyn. Further accusations emerged along with lawsuits in 2012, 2013 and 2014 regarding sexual abuse of young males by Authenrieth in Rockledge and Sanford.
Authenrieth is last known to have been living in a retirement community in Massachusetts.
Diocese of Brooklyn
Bishop was Bryan Joseph McEntegart (1957-1968), followed by Francis John Mugavero (1968-1990).
||St. Vincent Ferrer
• Authenrieth was accused in a 2002 lawsuit of having sexually abused a boy in the rectory of St. Vincent Ferrer's.
||5/5, 5/6, 3/6
St. Vincent Ferrer's had a school with 659-535 boys and 466-552 girls.
In a late-1980s deposition, Authenrieth testified that he left Brooklyn for Florida after a young male parishioner who was "about 18" threatened to expose the fact that they had engaged in sex.
Diocese of Orlando
Bishop was William Donald Borders (1968-1974).
||1/1 Temporary Administrator
Borders was succeeded as Orlando bishop by Thomas Joseph Grady (1974-1989).
||St. John Vianney
||St. John Vianney's had a school with 445-459 students.
• A man filed suit in August 2014, alleging sexual abuse by Authenrieth from January 1976 to July 1978, when the man was a sixth- to eight-grade altar boy at All Souls. He said the abuse occurred in the sacristy and in Authenrieth's living quarters.
• After an All Souls' parishioner reported to the diocese in 1978 that Authenrieth had touched his son's genitals, the review board and Bishop Grady met; Authenrieth was transferred to St. Mary's in Rockledge.
||2/2 Authenrieth taught at the parish school.
||All Souls had a school with 261 students.
• Authenrieth was accused in lawsuits filed in 1985 of having sexually abused three boys, including sodomy, between 1978 and 1982. Authenrieth allegedly threatened the boys with the "wrath of God" to keep quiet. A fourth young man also sued in the mid-1980s, alleging abuse as a boy by Authenrieth at St. Mary's. Authenrieth admitted to fondling the four boys. Three of the boys were brothers. Their father said he told St. Mary's pastor about the abuse, whose response was that he should "pray," and "It's not for you to judge. That's for God to do." The father then contacted a lawyer.
• In a 2012 lawsuit a man alleged that he and several other children were sexually abused by Authenrieth in 1978, when the man was s a 14-year-old altar boy at St. Mary's. He said the abuse happened in the sacristy, during sleepovers at the rectory and when the priest invited the boy to to his quarters to practice playing the organ.
St. Mary's had a school with 401-423 students.
Per testimony by Authenrieth, in May 1983 an anonymous letter was sent to St. Mary's pastor, Rev. Terrence J. Farrelly stating, in part, that the letter-writer wished Authenrieth would "keep his hands off the altar boys." Authenrieth said he denied wrongdoing, and that Farrelly gave him the letter, which Authenrieth destroyed.
The diocese settled with one of Authenrieth's victims, then age 19, in November 1986 for $490,000. Two more of the suits were settled in May 1987.
Authenrieth admitted that he had brought more than 100 men to St. Mary's for sex.
|August 10, 1983
• In a lawsuit filed in October 2013, Authenrieth was accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old-altar boy in 1983-1984 at All Souls. His accuser said Authenrieth threatened to tell everyone he [the boy] was gay if he disclosed the abuse.
All Souls had a school with 238 students.
Per the October 2013 lawsuit, the diocese's response to learning of the abuse was to transfer Authenrieth to another parish.
||Our Lay of Lourdes
||Our Lady of Lourdes had a school with 208 students.
This assignment is per news reports. Authenrieth is not indexed beyond the 1985 Directory.
Authenrieth was suspended from ministry and sent to the House of Affirmation in Massachusetts for treatment.
As of August 2014, Authenrieth was reportedly living in a Massachusetts retirement community.
Priests in a Parish: We use the following
convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means
that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually
the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand
3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample
page from the Directory.
Source: Official Catholic Directory (Kenedy & Sons, 1962-1985).
• Suits Filed against Priest for Sexually Molesting Boys, United Press International, November 28, 1985
• Orlando Diocese to Pay $490,000 for Priest's Assaults, Associated Press, November 7, 1986
• Plan to Prevent Drug Use Approved, St Petersburg Times, March 18, 1987
• Captain a Winner in Fight over Fines, St Petersburg Times, May 6, 1987
• Child-Abuse Cases Cost Church Millions, by Carl M. Cannon, San Jose Mercury News, December 31, 1987
• Diocese Busy Paying for Sins of Its Fathers, Orlando Sentinel, by Debbie Salamone, Gene Yasuda and Jim Leusner, September 17, 1995
• Local Parishes Detached from Scandals, by Cary McMullen, Ledger , April 8, 2002
• Twelve Priests, One Brother Named in Lawsuit, Newsday, October 16, 2002
• Two Dioceses to Settle in Sex-Abuse Lawsuit, by Mark I. Pinsky, Newsday, July 12, 2005
• New Sex Abuse Lawsuit Filed against Orlando Diocese, Orlando Sentinel, July 23, 2012
• Former Altar Boy Says Priest Molested Him, WESH, July 23, 2012
• Former Altar Boy Hits Orlando Diocese with Sex Abuse Lawsuit, by Jeff Kunerth, Orlando Sentinel, October 2, 2013
• Claim against Orlando Diocese alleges sex abuse by priest in 1972, by Amanda McKenzie, NEWS 13, August 13, 2014
• Orlando Catholic Diocese sued again over sexual abuse, by Jeff Kunerth, Orlando Sentinel, August 13, 2014
• Lawsuit filed against Diocese of Orlando for alleged sex abuse by priest, WFTV, August 13, 2014
Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic
priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication
year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory
for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year
as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into
the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to
correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading
or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the
source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in
progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email
us with new information and corrections.
This assignment record collates Authenrieth's career history as it is represented
in the Official Catholic Directory with the allegations against him, as reported in
the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegations
we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes
that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven
guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are
presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise.
Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private
settlements. For more information, see our posting
This assignment record was last updated on December 7, 2017.