Monsignor Faces Second Allegation

By Brett Norman
Pensacola News Journal (Pensacola, FL)
September 11, 2003

A Catholic priest who resigned last month after admitting to molesting a boy 34 years ago is now accused of molesting a second boy during the same period.

Monsignor Richard Bowles, 74, the former pastor of St. Michael Catholic Church in downtown Pensacola, was a priest in the Diocese of St. Augustine at the time of both incidents, Monsignor Michael Mooney, spokesman for the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, said Wednesday.

"We want to get the information out there in case there's anyone else," said Mooney, who initially had characterized the first incident as isolated.

"With the second one coming out, we just don't know."

Bowles admitted last month to sexual misconduct with a boy in 1969, eight years after his ordination. Until last weekend, when the admission was made public, parishioners had assumed Bowles' abrupt resignation Aug. 17 was because of health problems.

Mooney said a second incident of sexual misconduct with a boy was reported this week.

That incident allegedly occurred during an out-of-state trip in 1971.

"We're putting our victim-advocate services in touch with the victim," Mooney said. "Our thoughts and prayers go first to the victim and then to his family."

Bowles has been unavailable for comment.

Bishop John Ricard of the local diocese suspended Bowles' privilege to celebrate Mass and perform the sacraments. He also instructed him that he is not allowed to wear clerical garb or present himself as a priest.

Mooney declined to comment on details of the allegations or who made the initial report.

However, Bowles' attorney, William Richmond of Wolfeboro, N.H., said a Jacksonville psychiatrist reported the matter in March.

Richmond supplied letters and memos stating that the psychiatrist examined Bowles for the sexual abuse of the first reported victim three decades ago.

The doctor, according to one of the memos, told local diocese officials that he had a chance encounter with Bowles several years ago when they were attending separate conferences at the Pensacola Grand Hotel.

During the next few years, the doctor "felt guilty" whenever he heard the victims' names, prompting his report to the diocese last spring.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.