Longtime Catholic priest Rolando Garcia is accused of sexual abuse for the fourth time, prompting the Archdiocese of Miami to take a defensive stand while many parishioners condemn him.
BY JAY WEAVER
Tony Simmons says he ran away from his parents’ home and was living on the streets when the Rev. Rolando Garcia offered him a helping hand at the Church of the Little Flower in Hollywood.
“I was pretty lost,” Simmons, 34, told The Miami Herald. “Father Garcia was the only person who talked to me. He was my friend.”
Last week, Simmons, a decorated U.S. Army specialist who served in the Iraq war, accused Garcia in a lawsuit of sexually abusing him during the mid-1990s, starting when he was 16 years old.
For the first time in recent memory, Miami’s Catholic Church leaders reacted defensively to his negligence suit, the latest of more than 100 filed against the local archdiocese since the clergy-sex abuse scandal broke nationwide a decade ago.
Even before church officials saw Simmons’ suit, the archdiocese issued an unprecedented statement on Tuesday suggesting that if the news media wanted to write a “balanced story,” reporters should ask Simmons’ lawyer where he found him as a client, why he took so long to come forward and why was he homeless?
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