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  Prominent Priest Faces Sex-Abuse Lawsuit
The Suit Claims Father Lawrence P. Redmond Molested a Teen-Age Relative in 1980

By Jim Leusner
Orlando Sentinel [Florida]
May 18, 1995

A prominent Ormond Beach Catholic priest, who retired in January after fliers were circulated accusing him of sexual misconduct, has been named in a lawsuit charging he molested a 15-year-old relative in 1980.

Father Lawrence P. Redmond, 58, a former top aide to the bishop, was named in an assault suit filed last week in Orange Circuit Court by a man identified only as John Doe.

The suit also charges the Diocese of Orlando and then-Bishop Thomas Grady were negligent because they should have known that Redmond "posed a danger . . . as a result of his sexual appetite for minor boys."

Redmond, who lives in St. Augustine, could not be reached for comment. Grady, who is 80 and retired, declined comment through a diocese spokesman.

The suit is the third filed against the diocese and former priests in the past three months. Former Orlando diocese Chancellor Arthur Bendixen, once the No. 3 Catholic official in Central Florida, and priest Thomas Pagni, both forced from the priesthood in recent years after sexual abuse allegations, have lawsuits pending against them.

Both have disputed the charges.

Diocese Chancellor Sister Lucy Vazquez said church officials never had any formal complaints against Redmond. She said they attempted to locate alleged victims after fliers were put on cars of parishioners during Sunday Mass at Prince of Peace Catholic Church on Dec. 18. The fliers accused Redmond, pastor of the church since 1987, of sexual misconduct.

Vazquez said Redmond was placed on a leave of absence, but no victims could be identified or came forward. She said Redmond retired in January because of a heart problem.

The suit, filed May 11 by Tampa lawyer Thomas Granahan, asks for an unspecified amount in damages. It charges that Redmond fondled and masturbated the boy several times in the summer of 1980 at a house in St. Johns County.

Granahan said his client, now 30 and living in Tampa, is married and has been going through therapy in recent years to deal with emotional problems.

Although there is up to a 7-year statute-of-limitations on such incidents, Granahan said the time-limit can be extended if a client did not recall the incidents. He said his client learned the extent of the abuse after undergoing therapy and seeing letters Redmond wrote to relatives in the last few years.

Two weeks ago, a brother of the plaintiff told The Orlando Sentinel that he and his two brothers were fondled and molested by Redmond in the late 1970s and early 1980s while they were teen-agers. The abuse, he said, was in St. Augustine, Ormond Beach and at Saint Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Goldenrod, where Redmond served as pastor until 1976. He said relatives placed the fliers on the cars in Ormond Beach.

Granahan said Wednesday that two others will present similar testimony against Redmond.

At the time of his retirement in January, Redmond was one of two vicar generals - the two top deputies to Bishop Norbert Dorsey. Redmond served in that position for 3 1/2 years, in addition to being a church pastor.

Redmond also served as a pastor in Ocala from 1976 to 1987 and once was the diocese youth director and vocations director, in addition to being head of priests for 12 parishes in Volusia County.

 
 

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