Retired Priest Living in Broward Denies he Molested Teen in '77

By Natalie P. McNeal
Miami Herald
June 29, 2002

A retired Broward priest, accused of molesting a parishioner in 1977, said in a statement Friday that he has never sexually abused anyone.

"I am troubled that anyone would make such accusations accusing me of sexual abuse of a minor," said the Rev. Anthony Petrusic, 71, through a statement from his Omaha, Neb., lawyer.

Petrusic, who lives in Hollywood, worked as a part-time priest at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Sunrise for the past eight years.

The Miami Archdiocese removed Petrusic in April when a former parishioner said Petrusic abused him when he was a teenager in Omaha.

He moved to South Florida after a long career as a priest in Omaha.

The accuser, Willet Mather, now 40, who grew up in Omaha under a different name, told The Omaha World Herald newspaper that Petrusic, then a priest in the Omaha diocese, molested him in a cabin in 1977.

Mather said he met with a high-ranking church official in the mid-1980s, but never heard back from the archdiocese. In a follow-up call years later, Mather said he was told that Petrusic had been transferred out of the country.

Such an assertion can only be totally incorrect, said Petrusic's attorney Tim Kielty. "Petrusic is a diocesan priest and would not be transferred under any circumstance out of the country for such reasons as alleged," Kielty said.

Kielty added: "I find it very interesting that this alleged accuser would go to a newspaper reporter 25 years after this alleged incident. Why did this accuser not go to the media 25 years ago when it would have been appropriate?"



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