Woman Claims Priest Forced Her to Have Sex, Sues Archdiocese

By Kelli Kennedy
November 27, 2006

Miami -- A woman who claims a priest forced her to have sex, got her pregnant and then encouraged her to have an abortion, sued the Archdiocese of Miami Monday for negligence and vicarious liability.

The woman, identified as Jane Doe No. 30, is a Haitian immigrant who came to the United States to attend nursing school. She attended St. Vincent De Paul Church, where she received spiritual counseling from Father Marc Presume in 2005. The woman, who is in her early 20s, also received financial aid from the archdiocese to pay for her schooling, the lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court said.

She resisted sexual advances made by Presume, but he told her if she refused to have sex, the church would stop her financial assistance, the lawsuit said.

She had sex with him on several occasions and became pregnant. Presume told her to have an abortion, but she refused and gave birth to a boy, the lawsuit alleges.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta said she had no knowledge of the lawsuit. There was no phone listing for Presume in South Florida and a search of his name was not found on the archdiocese Web site. It was unclear whether he still worked for the archdiocese.

"Any lawsuit that is filed with the archdiocese where there's inappropriate behavior will be investigated. If this is considered a crime then we would encourage the victim to report it," Agosta said. "According to our policy, once the lawsuit is received, any allegation of sexual misconduct will be reported to law enforcement officials."

The lawsuit alleges the Archdiocese and the Congregation of Holy Cross knew or should have known Presume had inappropriate contact with women and took no action to protect her.

"It's really a victimization of the highest degree. She's an immigrant. She turns to the one place that she feels she's gonna get care and a place she can trust and the trust is betrayed," Jeffrey Herman, the woman's lawyer, said. "And now, she has this baby that financially she's not prepared to be able to take care of."

Presume was ordained by Holy Cross, which is also named in the lawsuit, before going to work for the archdiocese, Herman said.

The lawsuit also names the Archdiocese of Miami Inc., Archdiocese of Miami, a Corporation Sole, Archbishop Favalora as Corporate Sole of the Archdiocese of Miami, Congregation of Holy Cross and Priests of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

A local telephone listing for Congregation of Holy Cross was not found. An e-mail seeking a comment from their organization was not returned Monday.

Doe, who is seeking more than $10 million to support her child, dropped out of nursing school to care for the baby, Herman said.


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