Two Priests Face Sex Abuse Allegations

By Tere Figueras
Miami Herald
January 21, 2004

Two priests who are brothers are facing allegations they sexually abused an orphaned teen while he was living at the Boystown compound in West Kendall more than 30 years ago.

The orphan, now in his late 40s, filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Miami on Tuesday, claiming the Rev. Neil Flemming made him "his personal sex servant" soon after the boy was brought to the Boystown facility in 1969.

He says Flemming's brother James, not yet a priest at the time, also molested him.

Neil Flemming, 72, was removed from the ministry last week by the bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Southwest Florida following an investigation into decades-old abuse allegations, but church officials have not released details of the case.

This is the second recent lawsuit filed alleging sex abuse at Boystown - located off Southwest 137th Avenue and 120th Street - which over the decades has housed displaced teens, wards of the state and children airlifted out of Cuba in Operation Pedro Pan.

In June, a former altar boy alleged he was abused by another priest while he was living at Boystown in the mid-1970s.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, the complainant, identified as "John Doe," says the alleged abuse began when he was summoned from Boystown to Neil Flemming's quarters in a church rectory.

According to the suit, the priest told the 14-year-old "he needed a sperm sample because one of [the teen's] testicles had not descended," and "to this end, Flemming performed oral sex."

The teen, diagnosed with a learning disability, was assigned a tutor while at Boystown: James Flemming, who also sexually abused the boy, according to the suit.

The two men continued to pursue and abuse the teen until he ran away from Boystown two years later, attorney Jeffrey Herman said.

The Archdiocese of Miami had not yet received the suit Tuesday evening, spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta said.

When the archdiocese does get a suit, she said, "we offer counseling to the alleged victim, report the allegations to the state attorney's office and cooperate fully with the investigation."

The criminal statute of limitations, which is four years from the time of the alleged incident if the victim is 12 or older, has expired in this case.

The Rev. James Flemming is still an active priest but is currently on sabbatical, according to Mary McGrath, a spokeswoman for the Venice diocese.

She declined to discuss the specifics of the investigation that preceded Neil Flemming's removal, as well as any allegations made against his brother.


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