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  Priest Who Died in 1984 Accused of Sexually Abusing Children

By Michelle Bearden
Tampa Tribune (Florida)
August 3, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG - A priest who died nearly 20 years ago has been accused of sexually abusing children while he served at Tampa Bay area churches.

Several individuals have come forward with "credible accusations" against the Rev. Hubert J. Reason, who died of natural causes at age 60 on July 10, 1984, said diocesan spokeswoman Mary Jo Murphy.

"They requested anonymity," Murphy said. "What they asked for from us is assistance for healing and reconciliation, and we're providing that."

Reason, ordained April 7, 1957, served as a priest at eight Catholic churches, including four in the St. Petersburg diocese. They are: St. Patrick in Largo, from Jan. 5, 1966, to Jan. 6, 1967; St. Ignatius of Antioch in Tarpon Springs, Jan. 6, 1967, to Jan. 6, 1978; St. Theresa in Spring Hill, June 19, 1979, to June 17, 1980; and St. Mary, Our Lady of Grace, June 17, 1980, to July 10, 1984.

Reason also served parishes in Sarasota, Orlando, Maitland and North Miami.

The disclosure of the allegations made against Reason is part of the diocese's ongoing review of the personnel files of priests who have served in the diocese. Murphy said the diocese has maintained a "zero tolerance" policy on sexual abuse of minors since 1996.

She said Reason's alleged victims did not indicate they plan to take legal action against the diocese.

Murphy said there was nothing in Reason's file to indicate he had been accused of sexual abuse of minors. The victims are now adults and came forward only recently, Murphy said.

Lynch urges anyone who may have been abused as a child by Reason, or any diocesan personnel, to come forward to law enforcement, a parish priest or the diocesan chancellor.

"The bishop has a very open heart and will listen to any victim who comes forward," Murphy said.

Lynch also will be holding a series of "listening sessions" this fall around the diocese so people can air their concerns about the church. He decided to organize the sessions after attending the Catholic bishops' conference in June.

He originally wanted them to begin in the summer but had to postpone them until the fall.

"He considers this a high priority," Murphy said. "It's just that it takes a lot of time and planning to put these together. And by moving them to the fall, we think more people will be around to get involved."

Murphy said dates and locations will be announced soon.

 
 

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