Florida Man Sues Priest, Diocese for Alleged Abuse

News4Jax [Pensacola FL]
May 25, 2005

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- A 49-year-old man sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee and a now-retired priest Tuesday, saying that 34 years ago the priest tried to molest him in a Georgia motel room.

The Florida Circuit Court suit accuses Monsignor Richard Bowles of disrobing and demanding oral sex from Paul Tugwell, then 15, during a 1971 trip to Callaway Gardens at Pine Mountain, Ga. Tugwell said he refused Bowles request.

The suit also alleges that diocese officials failed to report the matter to police when Tugwell's parents complained and transferred Bowles from one parish to another.

Cardinal Bernard Law resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002 after the disclosure that he had moved predatory priests to new church assignments without notifying parishioners. His archdiocese settled more than 550 lawsuits for $85 million. The Boston complaints led to similar allegations and thousands of lawsuits across the nation.

Tugwell's suit is believed to be the first of its kind in Pensacola. Church officials said that Bowles, in his mid-70s, resigned in 2003 after he admitted molesting another boy in 1969.