Local Diocese Investigates Priest Abuse Charges

News4Jax [Jacksonville FL]
December 1, 2004

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A local Catholic Diocese revealed Wednesday that two of its priests are accused of sexual abuse.

The Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine said the offenses happened years ago, and at least one case involves three children.

But Eyewitness News Investigator Jim Piggott learned that those incidents still haven't been reported to police.

Two investigations are currently under way at diocese headquarters in Mandarin.

Many Catholic parishioners in Jacksonville agree with others facing similar situations throughout the United States -- that it's important to get out all the information about alleged abuses committed by priests.

Officials said there are two cases currently under investigation in the North Florida area. They both happened years ago, and church officials have only talked about one of the cases, which involved the late Father Thomas McNamera. He was visiting from Ireland and was assigned to St. Patrick Church on the Northside. He also stayed several years at Christ the King in Arlington.

This past summer, three adults came forward and said they were abused by McNamera when they were children.

All that officials would say about the second case was that it occurred in the diocese and they will have more information next week.

"There was no obligation on our part to report any of those cases, because legally they're not reportable cases. It would be up to the individuals at that point," said Kathleen Bagg-Morgan, of the local diocese.

State Attorney Harry Shorstein said his office was not notified about the cases.

"As it appears in the report, the cases are extremely old and most probably we would be prohibited from prosecuting because of the statute of limitations," he said.


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