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  Two New Abuse Suits Filed

By Jay Weaver
Miami Herald
November 19, 2003

Two Latin American immigrants on Tuesday lodged new sex-abuse complaints against a former Catholic priest who has been accused previously of several other assaults on teenage boys seeking shelter at his Sweetwater church decades ago.

The former priest, Ernesto Garcia-Rubio, 66, has now been targeted in four lawsuits filed against the Archdiocese of Miami, which faces about 30 sex-abuse suits involving 16 priests.

ALCOHOL AND DRUGS

In one of the new suits filed Tuesday, a Cuban refugee who came to Miami in the 1980 Mariel boatlift claimed that Garcia-Rubio plied him with alcohol and drugs before raping him in his bed several times at Our Lady of Divine Providence and at the Miccosukee Indian Reservation in west Miami-Dade County.

Garcia-Rubio, whose current whereabouts are unknown, could not be reached for comment.

The alleged victim, now 40, also claims he confided the abuse to the Rev. Hector Gonzalez of St. Brendan's Church that year - and that Gonzalez subsequently sexually assaulted him. Gonzalez was assigned to the Westchester church in 1980.

Gonzalez, 62, now pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Northwest Miami-Dade, denied the allegations, saying, "I'm completely innocent."

In the other new suit, the second immigrant, now 44, says he was raped several times by Garcia-Rubio at Our Lady of Divine Providence in 1977.

His country of origin is not revealed in the lawsuit.

"These were boys without any parents," said their Hollywood attorney, Jeffrey Herman.

"They were here for comfort, care and trust. And [Garcia-Rubio] would violate them in the worst way. I believe the church knew or should have known about his history."

The Miami archdiocese, which was named as the sole defendant in both negligence suits, has no current record of Garcia-Rubio's whereabouts. The Vatican returned him to lay status about a decade ago.

COMMENT DECLINED

The archdiocese declined to comment on the latest suits. Church lawyers are also reluctant to turn over archdiocese records to the alleged victims in the two earlier suits involving Garcia-Rubio.

Records in one of those suits show that the church refuses to supply 72 documents on Garcia-Rubio's career since his ordination in 1963.

A summary of one of those documents shows that the archdiocese sent him to a Maryland psychiatric treatment center for troubled priests in 1988, just months before The Herald reported the first allegations against him. He was then transferred to Honduras.

INVESTIGATED EARLIER

The Miami-Dade state attorney's office investigated Garcia-Rubio's alleged abuse of Central American immigrants during the 1980s but never filed charges because the boys questioned then said the priest never assaulted them.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta said Tuesday she could not comment on the former priest, who served at Our Lady of Divine Providence from 1975 to 1988.

She said she had no direct knowledge of how the archdiocese handled the earliest allegations against Garcia-Rubio.

But she said, speaking generally, "We would never intentionally put anybody in a dangerous situation where they could be taken advantage of."

 
 

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