Papers Reveal Cover up Priest's Sexual Misconduct

By John Maclauchlan
March 29, 2010

An investigation into a defrocked priest who ministered here in South Florida and allegedly preyed on young children from the Mariel boat lift, Nicaragua and El Salvador has reportedly uncovered documents that indicate his actions were acknowledged and covered up by the Vatican.

The documents concern former Father Ernesto Garcia-Rubio who was pastor of "Our Lady of Divine Providence" in Sweetwater in the 1980s. Garcia-Rubio was defrocked in the late 1990s, after he was accused of raping four young boys from Central America.

According to child sexual abuse attorneys Stuart Mermelstein and Jessica Arbour, the documents reveal an international cover up of Garcia-Rubios's pattern of sexual misconduct. The Vatican, Archdiocese of Miami, and Garcia-Rubio's Cuban diocese all reportedly knew he posed a threat to children early in his ministry, yet each entity did nothing to warn the parishioners.

"John Doe 63 has chosen to bring this lawsuit as a John Doe because he is very concerned about his anonymity. He still lives with the shame and the guilt of what father Garcia-Rubio did to him," said Jessica Arbour.

John Doe 63 claims the sexual abuse at the hands of Father Garcia-Rubio took place in the mid 80's, when he was a teenager. Lawyers pointed to new paperwork at a news conference Monday, which they obtained from the Archdiocese of Miami, showing what they claim is years of a cover up.

"He had many friends in high places, and it is apparent. It is those high friends in high places that we now know went out of their way to protect him," said Arbour, referring to decades of memos and letters between high ranking Vatican officials and the officials at the Archdiocese of Miami.

The documents reportedly revealed that Garcia-Rubio was personally known to several Vatican officials and began his career in Miami at the request of the Holy See. Less than five years after he was ordained, the Vatican warned Miami officials that he had been forced to leave Cuba because of sexual misconduct, and it sought assurance that Garcia-Rubio would be protected in Miami.

The first letter, already made public in a previous report, stated: "Father Garcia was forced to leave Cuba because of serious difficulties of a moral nature (homosexuality)."

The term "homosexuality" is a term lawyers say they have found in paperwork to be code for child abuse. "They didn't refer to it as child sex abuse, but rather 'homosexuality, the problem,' or 'an illness,'" said Arbour.

In another letter, the Archbishop of Miami in 1968 responded to the claim of "homosexuality" stating: "I assure you that I will do what I can in every way to protect him."

It is that verbiage that lawyers for the alleged victim say is alarming.

"Not once did either of the officials in the Archdiocese of Miami mention that is was necessary to protect children," said Arbour.

In the 1980s, allegations of sexual abuse were made by multiple children, yet Miami Archbishop Edward McCarthy allowed Garcia-Rubio to continue in ministry throughout Central and South America. In 2004 the Archdiocese of Miami agreed to pay $3.4 million to settle almost two dozen lawsuits against various priests including Garcia-Rubio.

"It is causing us serious concern today because we know there have been many of victims of father Garcia that have come forward and a lot more that have not," said Arbour.

The Archdiocese of Miami issued a statement saying the following:

"The Catholic Bishops in the United States addressed the issue of sexual abuse with its charter promulgated in 2002 and continue to be diligent in its promise to "Protecting God's Children." The response to the victims of abuse has been pastoral and the abusers subject to civil and canon laws.

While the focus of Mr. Mermelstein's press conference dealt with the involvement of the Vatican and Mr. Garcia-Rubio, what was not understood by this attorney is that correspondence with the Church in Cuba always took place and continues to do so through a representative of the Vatican, an Apostolic Delegate, now known as the Apostolic Nuncio. This type of communication is not unique, but necessary, with countries under political suppression.

As always, the Catholic Church's concerns are for the victims and a prevailing sense of justice. In addition, over these past eight years, it has been forthcoming and taken steps to keep our children safe through training and background screenings."

As for father Garcia Rubio, he is no longer a priest. Garcia Rubio asked to leave the church to get married about ten years ago.


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