Charges Unlikely against Ex-Priest

By Peter Franceschina
Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
April 24, 2002

Palm Beach Gardens police say it is unlikely any criminal charges can be filed in the case of a woman who alleges she was sexually molested by a priest in the mid-1980s at St. Ignatius Loyola Cathedral, because the accusations are so old.

The woman's mother brought the allegations to Palm Beach Diocese officials on April 5, the day after her daughter first told her about them, and diocese officials asked that they be investigated.

The woman was interviewed by detectives on Sunday, and police say charges likely won't be filed in the case, because there is no allegation she was sexually assaulted when she was under the age of 12, Palm Beach Gardens Police Maj. Robert Artola said Tuesday.

Sexual battery on a person under the age of 12 is the most serious rape charge in Florida and the only one that doesn't carry a statute of limitations. Artola declined to be specific about the nature of the accusations, but he said forcible rape is not one of them.

"It doesn't look like we will be filing any charges," he said, adding that police are still investigating and reviewing the law.

If a person over the age of 12 is sexually assaulted, criminal charges can be brought under state law within four years of the person turning 18 or of the assault being reported to a law enforcement agency. Molestation charges have to be filed within three years or less, depending on the crime.

Once completed, the investigation will be forwarded to prosecutors for their review, Artola said. Police are trying to determine if there are any other alleged victims, he said.

In a letter to prosecutors asking for the investigation, a diocese attorney said the accused priest is the Rev. Frank Flynn, 59, who once served as pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola and is now retired from the diocese and living in Ireland. The alleged abuse took place between 1979 and 1986, according to the letter.

Flynn's attorney, Jack Scarola, said Tuesday that Flynn denies ever having an improper relationship with the woman.

"They have basically satisfied themselves there is no basis for criminal investigation," he said.


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