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  Priest Abused Me As Teen, Man Says

By Ken Kaye
Sun-Sentinel [Fort Lauderdale FL]
November 9, 2002

A 14-year-old boy was taken from his home in Cuba 40 years ago, brought to South Florida under the protection of the Catholic Church and repeatedly raped by a priest, according to a lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on Friday.

The suit, which lists no monetary damages, names Father Joaquin Guerrero and the Archdiocese of Miami as defendants, saying the Archdiocese failed to protect the boy from sexual abuse.

Now a 54-year-old social worker in Miami, the alleged victim, identified in the lawsuit as "R.E.," came to the United States in 1962 under the Pedro Pan program, sponsored by the Archdiocese to provide a better life for Cuban children.

R.E. was assigned to live in a camp in Kendall overseen by Guerrero, who for six months raped and sodomized the alleged victim, according to the lawsuit.

Adam Horowitz, an attorney representing the Archdiocese of Miami, declined to comment, saying he hadn't seen the suit.

Because priests have been the targets of several sexual abuse suits, Archdiocese officials say they now have a firm policy of cooperating with law enforcement.

Guerrero is believed to still be in South Florida, said R.E.'s attorney, Jeff Herman, although that could not be confirmed.

Speaking in Herman's Hollywood office on Friday, R.E. said he suppressed the memories until last year, when he learned Barry University was making available files on those in the Pedro Pan program.

He said out of curiosity he requested his file and read a letter from a doctor recommending he see a psychologist because he was having a hard time. That, R.E. said, brought the memories back.

He said he almost drove to Guerrero's home to confront him.

"You look for somebody to protect you, then that person turns out to do the things he did to me," R.E. said.

The abuse stopped when the R.E. moved in with an Oregon family. He later returned to Miami and married, although today he is a widower with no children. Even though he forgot what happened, he said he felt depressed over the years.

He said he thinks other boys in the program also were abused.

"I was brought up to trust people," he said. "I want the Archdiocese to tell me why they didn't protect me."

 
 

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