Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach to Join Sex Abuse Settlement

The Associated Press, carried in Sun-Sentinel [West Palm Beach FL]
May 9, 2004

WEST PALM BEACH -- The Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach will pay part of a settlement to a teenager who accused a now-retired priest of sexual misconduct.

Lawyers would not disclose the amounts to be paid by the diocese or the other defendants _ St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Port St. Lucie, another retired priest, the Rev. Donald Whipple, and his religious order, the Holy Cross Fathers.

The teen sued in March 2003, alleging Rev. Francis Maloney was naked in front of him, asked sex-related questions during counseling sessions and showed him pornographic letters and pictures. He also said he found Maloney in bed with another man.

"It would not be appropriate for us to comment," said diocese attorney C. Brooks Ricca.

The five-county diocese, based in Palm Beach Gardens, has acknowledged paying more than $900,000 to settle seven previous abuse or harassment claims.

Maloney's home insurance company agreed to pay $150,000 of the settlement. Exact terms of the settlement weren't release, but it is more than $150,000 and less than $1 million, according to lawyers and court documents.

Andrew Pelino, attorney for "John Doe Jr.," said the youth, now 18, plans to go to college and wanted to keep both the settlement and his identity private.

Maloney came to the diocese from Ohio in 1986, starting at St. Joseph Church in Stuart. He later served at St. Rita in Wellington, St. Juliana in West Palm Beach, Holy Family in Port St. Lucie and St. Luke in Lake Worth.

Maloney denied the allegations and accused the youth of ransacking his bedroom to find the letters and nude pictures put away in dresser drawers.

His lawyer, Gean Junginger of Fort Pierce, said Friday that Maloney denied any wrongdoing, "civil, criminal or ecclesiastical."

Maloney was forced to retire in 2000 after an allegation of a sexual relationship with another man while he was at St. Luke.

He became a volunteer priest at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, where the teen and his mother were active in church ministries. When the boy complained to the diocese in 2002, Maloney was stripped of his priestly duties.


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