2 Abuse Suits Filed against Priest
Miami Pastor Is Suspended during Inquiry
By Noaki Schwartz
Sun-Sentinel [Fort Lauderdale FL]
July 12, 2002
Two former altar boys filed lawsuits against suspended priest Jose P. Nickse on Thursday, claiming he molested them at a Miami racquet club and local restaurants in the 1980s.
The claims filed by Richard Fiallo and an unnamed "John Doe" are the second and third lawsuits against the 55-year-old priest. The lawsuit also names St. Brendan Catholic Church and the Miami archdiocese, which operates the church.
Nickse was suspended on June 4, after the archdiocese became aware of the first altar boy's complaint. The latest allegations, like all complaints, will be "thoroughly investigated," said Mary Ross Agosta, archdiocese spokeswoman.
Fiallo, 31, was a 12-year-old altar boy and student at St. Brendan Catholic Church and elementary school when the abuse started, according to the complaint. He did not remember the alleged abuse until cases of clergy sexual misconduct became public this year, said his attorney, Jeff Herman.
According to Fiallo's lawsuit, in the early 1980s Nickse invited the boy to play racquetball at his club and after the game took him into the Jacuzzi. "Father Nickse took off his clothes and told Richard it was a rule to be naked in the Jacuzzi," the lawsuit said.
When the boy refused, Nickse wrestled with Fiallo to try to force the boy to strip and fondled him in the process, Herman said.
In another incident detailed in the complaint, Nickse fondled the boy in his car on the way home from a funeral. While this was happening, Fiallo "stared out the window crying," the lawsuit said.
Nickse told the boy not to tell anyone about the abuse and Fiallo "was too scared and confused" to stop going to church, Herman said.
During a Thursday afternoon news conference in front of St. Brendan, Fiallo criticized Nickse as well as parishioners for their "blind faith" in the pastor.
"They need to wake up," Fiallo said. "[Priests] are human beings like anyone else. They say they represent God and faith, and they're abusing the faith of parishioners."
A small group of Nickse supporters, wearing buttons stamped with the pastor's smiling face, bristled when Fiallo suggested parents start questioning their children.
Nickse, who in response to the first allegation insisted he's innocent, worked at the church for 20 years and received as many as 4,000 letters of support after his suspension, Agosta said.
Neither Nickse nor his attorney, Douglas McIntosh, could not be reached for comment.
"Nickse is all for the kids," said longtime parishioner Ricardo Rodriguez. He said his children attended St. Brendan and never mentioned anything suspicious about the priest.
The second lawsuit was filed by an unnamed plaintiff, now 36, and also is represented by Herman. In late 1982, when the boy was 16, he confessed to Nickse that he had some sexual thoughts. The priest invited the teenager to dinner and fondled him under the table, the lawsuit claims.
Nickse also allegedly took the teen to play racquetball, went to expensive restaurants and invited him to the rectory, spending more and more time with him. Nickse continued to fondle the boy at these outings until he was 18, according to the lawsuit.
The boy's parents eventually became suspicious of all the attention and reported their concerns to archdiocese representatives who "instructed John's parents not to talk further about the abuse," documents said. The victim said he did not discover his lifelong emotional problems were related to the alleged abuse until this year.
Noaki Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 305-810-5004.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.