New Lawsuit Alleges Recent Abuse by Priest

St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
December 23, 2003

A man who accuses a former priest of sexually abusing him filed suit Monday against the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg and its bishop.

The suit is the seventh filed against the diocese in the case of Robert Schaeufele, who is serving a 30-year prison sentence for sex crimes against children after a plea agreement in June.

This suit, filed by Jeffrey Rozanowski in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, provides the first allegation by any of Schaeufele's 22 alleged victims that the priest abused someone in recent years.

Rozanowski, 26, who declined to comment through an attorney, said in the suit that Schaeufele abused him two times in 2001, in addition to abuse he said he suffered as a boy 16 years ago.

"These 2001 incidents were a product of . . . Schaeufele's ability to gain the trust of (Rozanowski) since childhood and encourage a dysfunctional dependence upon him as a father figure whom he would try to please," the suit said.

Schaeufele worked at several churches in the Tampa Bay area for 27 years before his April 2002 resignation. The diocese declined to comment on the lawsuit, which also names Bishop Robert Lynch as a defendant.


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