Priest Drugged and Raped Boy in 1960s, Lawsuit Agains Miami Archdiocese Alleges

By Ginelle G. Torres
Sun-Sentinel [Fort Lauderdale FL]
August 18, 2005

A Fort Lauderdale man has accused the Rev. Neil Doherty of drugging and raping him several times in the late 1960s when he was about 11, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Archdiocese of Miami.

The man, referred to as John Doe No. 21, met Doherty while receiving counseling through the Catholic Welfare Bureau, the lawsuit said.

"It's been difficult my entire life living with this," the man said via speakerphone at a news conference.

"I cannot imagine how he was not stopped from doing this to other people."

According to the suit, Doherty took the boy to numerous houses in Broward County and to his mother's home in Palm Beach County, where the priest took other boys.

Doherty gave the boy marijuana and alcohol and after the child passed out, sexually abused him, the suit said.

"He would wake up and find Doherty abusing him," said Jeffrey Herman, an Aventura attorney who filed the suit. "Now, he's facing the demons."

Herman's client said Doherty, who went by "Gus," first formed a close relationship with him.

"He came across as my friend and that I could trust him," said the man, now 47. "But he took so many things away from me, and I had been struggling with what to do about it."

As a result of the abuse, the man said he is no longer a practicing Catholic.

So far this year, Herman has settled three cases against the Archdiocese of Miami for about $4 million.

Doherty has been accused of raping other boys in the 1970s.

In one case, Broward prosecutors said they could not file criminal charges because the statute of limitations had expired.

"Doherty was accused of abuse before and the Archdiocese put him in charge of dealing with children," Herman said. "Doe's father was sick, his mother was mentally ill and [Doherty] took advantage of that."

Doherty, who is retired, is not active in the ministry, Archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta said.

"Any allegations against Father Doherty will be addressed according to our policy and the laws of the state of Florida," Agosta said.

"The Archdiocese has been a front-runner in establishing policies and procedures regarding allegations against members of the clergy."